August 25, 2011 / 7:04 PM / 8 years ago

CAR opposition asks court to declare president incapable

BANGUI, Aug 25 (Reuters) - An opposition party in Central African Republic has filed a request with the highest court to declare the president incapacitated due to poor health, although the leader’s office denies he is ill.

The debate over President Francoise Bozize’s health is dominating the front pages of the nation’s newspapers and could heighten political tensions in the unstable nation if other political parties join the fray.

Joseph Bedounga of the MDREC party, one of the smaller opposition parties, said on Thursday Bozize’s health has been deteriorating for more than a year, rendering him incapable of carrying out his duties.

“He has lost consciousness several times due to the illness,” Bedounga said, adding it has occurred on several occasions during the president’s trips abroad and back home.

He did not specify the type of illness nor say how he knew of the incidents.

The vast, sparsely populated Central African state of about 4.5 million people is endowed with untapped gold, uranium and diamond resources but has been largely avoided by investors because of bouts of instability and various authoritarian rulers.

In his request Bendounga said the illness was preventing Bozize from exercising his duties, which could be prejudicial to the functioning of the state.

The president’s spokesman denied the allegations on national TV and radio on Thursday.

“Mr Bedounga is not the head of state’s physician to publish his bill of health,” Javon Zama said. “The president’s health is perfect and he has never lost consciousness.”

The court has not commented on the case.

Bozize came to power in a 2003 coup before winning elections in 2005 and earlier this year. His government continues to grapple with a mix of local rebels and bandits and the spillover of conflicts from neighbouring Chad, Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo. (Reporting by Paul-Marin Ngoupana; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by David Lewis)

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