CAR holds elections in bid to restore democracy

Central African Republic holds elections in bid to restore democracy after years of inter-religious violence that has killed thousands and displaced million people

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Central African Republic police forces patrol along with UN MINUSCA peacekeepers in the capital Bangui on October 3, 2014

People in the Central African Republic head to the polls on Wednesday to vote in democratic elections, hoping to end years of violence between Seleka and Anti-Balaka militias.

As many as 30 candidates are in the race to take the presidency, with Anti-Balaka-backed former prime minister Martin Ziguele among the favourites.

Another former prime minister, Anicet-Georges Dologuele, is also among the frontrunners, while ex-foreign minister Karim Meckassoua and Bilal Desire Nzanga-Kolingba, the son of a former president, also stand a good chance of being elected.

However, the absence of opinion polls or an incumbent leader makes it difficult to predict who will win the election.

Originally, the elections were planned to be held in September, but a wave of violence between the mainly Muslim Seleka group and the mainly Christian Anti-Balaka militia forced the government to delay the polls.

In early 2013, Seleka rebels in the north and the east of the country seized power. This led to violent reprisals from the country’s majority Christian population, with the Anti-Balaka militia committing mass killings of Muslims.

The violence forced approximately 1 million people to leave their homes.

In May 2014, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza was chosen to lead the country back to democracy after the Seleka appointed president stepped down in a bid to quell the violence.

The United Nations peacekeeping mission MINUSCA has urged security to be upheld during the polls following clashed that disrupted a referendum on the country’s constitution earlier this month.

So far, talks have failed to disarm the rival militias, a task that will become a top priority for the new president once elected.

It is currently unclear when the election results will be announced.

TRTWorld and agencies