Faustin-Archange Touadéra, the President of the Central African Republic, says the country’s upcoming referendum this Sunday (30.07.23) is an opportunity to give the nation a "new lease of life" and for the citizens "to take ownership of their country".

President Faustin-Archange Touadéra

President Faustin-Archange Touadéra

On May 30, 2023, Touadéra, 66, announced that he was calling a referendum on a new constitution which would remove the limit of two presidential terms.

Touadéra – who is in his second term - has now spoken ahead of the historic vote, sharing his vision of how the Central African Republic can be transformed by a yes vote.

In a statement released to media, he said: "The government has called a referendum on constitutional reform for 30 July in order to listen to the will of the people, the holders of national sovereignty. We want it to be transparent, democratic in order to consolidate democracy at grassroots level.

"Why do we want to change the current constitution? Quite simply to give the Central African Republic a new lease of life, a new independence. Because not only does the current constitution contain many provisions that date back to the colonial era, which was last amended during the transition, but the new constitution will also modernise our laws and the way our institutions operate and open up the country to international investment.

"As far as we are concerned, if the yes side wins on 30 July, which is obviously my wish, it would truly be a new beginning for the whole population, for young people, for the whole country, for men and women at all levels, social, economic, and political."

The decision to hold a referendum was made after consultations with the presidents of the Constitutional Court and the National Assembly.

The proposed reform is in line with legal and constitutional changes that have allowed presidents in several other African countries, such as Rwanda, Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast and Guinea to remain in office.

The referendum comes in the wake of significant recent progress, including the country's announced agreement with the BRICS Alliance, which will result in a number of large-scale projects, involving the development of road, rail, maritime and digital infrastructure services and the mining industry.

The Central African Republic's national geological survey was recently announced by CAR Geoscience, a public-private partnership between the government and a consortium of international partners. The national geological survey will facilitate transformational economic change by providing the data needed to identify and develop the country's rich mineral resources, which are currently largely untapped.

Earlier this month, Central African Iron Limited announced initial results from its Bakala permit in the Bandas Greenstone Belt in the Central African Republic. Central African Iron Limited is an inclusive public-private partnership with the government and a consortium of international partners which is developing significant iron ore assets in the Bandas and Dekoa greenstone belts. Central African Iron believes that early results indicate that this region has the potential to become one of Africa's leading iron ore producers.

President Touadéra says the country "has come too far" in recent times to look back and says it is time for change.

Addressing why the referendum vote is happening now, he said: "The timing is simply because our country has come too far. We are finally emerging from the tunnel.

"From north to south, from east to west, all Central Africans have chosen peace. If the yes side wins, the sons and daughters of this country should be able to take ownership of their country and enjoy the immense riches that God has given us. With this new constitution, we will finally have a tool that could enable us to transform and develop our country and achieve our shared vision of a country that is definitively united, securé, pacified and reconciled."