from OMAN MBIKO in Bangui, Central African Republic
BANGUI, (CAJ News) – ALMOST 2 million voters in the Central African Republic (CAR) went to the polls on Sunday to elect the country’s president for the next four years, as well as 140 members of the national assembly.
The election came after a week of turbulence. Militias hostile to incumbent President Faustin-Archange Touadera had stepped up attacks across the CAR since the constitutional court rejected several candidates, including former President Francois Bozize, earlier this month.
On Friday, three United Nations peacekeepers were killed in attacks on the domestic security forces and the MINUSCA mission.
Last week Russia sent military specialists to the CAR to prevent violence and establish peace in the country. “Russia has sent several hundred soldiers and heavy weapons” in the framework of a bilateral cooperation agreement, a CAR’s government spokesman said. Rwanda also provided assistance.
The elections were attended by observers from international organizations and other countries, including Russia. They goal was to prevent provocations and rigging of results. Observers note that the elections were held legitimately and without significant violations.
Touadera’s main challenger is the former head of government, Anicet-Georges Dologuele, who is backed by Bozize. The election will go to a second round if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote. According to exit polls, Touadera won.
This is the first election since a peace deal was signed between the government and 14 rebel groups in February 2019, although fighting continues. Sixteen candidates were running for presidency, including three women. More than 1,500 candidates were running for 140 seats in the national assembly.
– CAJ News