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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 May, 2005, 17:30 GMT 18:30 UK
Former coup leader wins CAR poll
Francois Bozize casts his vote in the May poll
The poll ends more than two years of military rule
Former coup leader Francois Bozize has won this month's presidential elections in the Central African Republic, election monitors have said.

The incumbent leader won 65% or 610,903 of votes cast in the run-off against former Prime Minister Martin Ziguele, monitors said.

Accepting defeat, Mr Ziguele described the result was a "full expression of the Central African people".

People celebrated in the streets of the capital Bangui after the announcement.

Economy hopes

"We believe that the international community will have more confidence in our country now that we have a democratically-elected president," Jean-Francois Bassole, a 40-year-old taxi driver told AP news agency.

"We hope that Bozize will fulfil our aspirations and improve the country's sluggish economy," Kadija Ba, a market vendor, said.

The election brings to an end more than two years of military rule.

Mr Bozize seized power in March 2003 while the then President Ange-Felix Patasse was out of the country.

In the first round of the presidential race on 13 March, Mr Bozize gained almost 43% of the vote, while Mr Ziguele won 23%. History of coups

Despite coming to power in a coup which saw widespread looting and destruction, Mr Bozize has gradually gained approval at home.

Mr Ziguele, who represents the main MLPC opposition party, was seen to be at a disadvantage because of his associations with the unpopular old regime.

Polling was overseen by about 300 national and international observers.

The CAR has a history of coups and army mutinies, as well as endemic corruption, and remains one of Africa's least developed nations.

Profile of Francois Bozize
16 Mar 03 |  Africa
CAR: A classic African coup
18 Mar 03 |  Africa
CAR coup strongly condemned
17 Mar 03 |  Africa

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