The constitutional court in the Central African Republic on Saturday declared President Francois Bozize the winner of elections last month which the opposition has denounced as fraudulent.
In a public session broadcast on television the court threw out complaints by opposition candidates, pronouncing the election properly conducted and Bozize the victor with 64.37 percent of the vote.
Former president Ange-Felix Patasse, whom Bozize overthrew in a 2003 coup, was second with 21.41 percent and former prime minister Martin Ziguele third with 6.8 percent, court president Marcel Malonga said.
The figures were only slightly modified from those given by the election commission following the poll on January 23.
Ziguele said the court's decision was expected and did nothing to change the opposition's view that the vote was fraudulent.
"This changes nothing. Everything is false. This decision by the court in no way changes our judgement. The court... decided to see nothing and to say nothing," he told AFP.
"This decision only strengthens my determination to continue the political struggle for democracy, for the rule of law, so that our country knows no more of these travesties," Ziguele said.
He said his party would meet Monday and consult with others in the opposition to decide what steps to take next.
Bozize, 64, won the last presidential election in 2005 by a similar margin.
The opposition had also rejected the results of simultaneous legislative elections, which said Bozize's KnK party took 26 seats outright in the first round and led in most of the rest of the 105 electoral districts.
The polls, postponed twice from the originally scheduled date of April 2009, were meant to put the seal on a long peace process involving government, rebels and political opposition groups.
Bozize was born on October 14, 1946, in Gabon, where his father was a gendarme in the French colonial system.
He has a chequered history of exile, imprisonment and coups. After becoming the country's youngest general at age 32, he twice tried to seize power and was forced into exile. He finally succeeded in 2003, taking over from Patasse, who had earlier appointed him head of the country's armed forces.
He says he hopes to rebuild the Central African Republic thanks to its as-yet underexploited resources, in particular oil, uranium and gold.
However a Western observer said that Bozize "governs no differently from the others who went before him. He governs above all for his ethnic group, his clan, his family."
The Central African Republic is notoriously unstable, with large areas subject to rebel movements and uprisings.
On Friday a military source said clashes between rebels and government troops in the east of the country this week left seven rebels dead.© ANP/AFP