Twenty of the 30 candidates contesting the presidential race in the Central African Republic have called on the authorities to halt the vote count and scrap the election which they claim was marred by fraud.
At a news conference Tuesday, the group said the December 30 presidential election that many hoped would restore peace in the war-ton Central African nation was marked by several irregularities, including intimidation.
Signatories included heavyweight candidate Karim Meckassoua, a former foreign minister from the minority Muslim community, who had been a pre-election front-runner.
Independent candidate Faustin Archange Touadera, a former prime minister, has taken a commanding lead in the presidential race, garnering more than 23 per cent of the vote with a quarter of the ballots counted, electoral officials said Sunday.
The former maths professor had been considered an outsider. Mr Anicet Georges Dologuele, also a former prime minister, was in second place with Desire Kolingba, son of a former president, in third. A likely second round is set for January 31.
The election is seen as vital to restoring stability in the former French colony after years of unrest.
Some two million voters were eligible to cast their ballots, for a new president and members of the 105-seat parliament.