Former president Ange-Felix Patasse of the Central African Republic said Thursday in exile that he was "potentially a candidate" for elections in his country next year.
"I am potentially a candidate in the presidential election of 2010 because there is a large groundswell of opinion in Centrafrica which is asking me to present myself," Patasse told a press conference at his home in Togo.Patasse ruled the CAR from 1999 until 2003, when he was overthrown by General Francois Bozize, who has since quit the military and is elected head of state in his country.
"The time has come for me to return to my native country where my people is waiting for me," Patasse said, adding that he expected to return to Bangui on Saturday.
Asked about his ouster from the Movement for the Liberation of the Centrafrican People (MPLC), the party he founded in 1962, Patasse said he was "still its legal and legitimate president. When I am in Bangui, everything will return to normal."
The MPLC in 2006 announced that it was suspending its former leader from all political activity for "failing to respect the political line of the party."
Last June, the MLPC made former prime minister Martin Ziguele its candidate for the presidential election due next year, on a date that has yet to be announced.
Patasse returned to Bangui in December 2008 for a month to take part in a peace forum that brought together members of the government, the opposition, civil society and rebels, in an attempt to pull the deeply poor country out of years of conflict.
This forum decided that both presidential and parliamentary elections will take place in 2010 and stressed that they would be "transparent and fair."