Ex-PM Touadera wins presidential election in CAR

Ex-PM Touadera wins presidential election in Central African Republic, challenged to restore peace after violence towards Muslims rose in early 2013

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Presidential candidate Faustin-Archange Touadera votes during the second round of presidential and legislative elections in Bangui, Central African Republic, February 14, 2016.

Former Central African Republic prime minister Faustin-Archange Touadera won a presidential election on February 14, the country's electoral commission announced on Saturday.

Touadera won 62.71 percent of the vote, according to provisional results announced by the National Elections Authority, ANE.

Two ex-prime ministers - both Christian - Faustin-Archange Touadera and Anicet-Georges Dologuele competed in the presidential run-off.

Anicet-Georges Dologuele, who won 37.29 percent of the vote, said on Saturday that he would not challenge the preliminary official results.

"For the sake of peace, I choose to respect the provisional results published by the ANE," Dologuele told reporter.

An electoral official carries ballot boxes in a warehouse used as an official center to keep votes from presidential and legislative elections, in Bangui, Central African Republic, February 16, 2016

During the election campaign Touadera promised to fight corruption while Dologuele promised to revive the economy and draw in investors who were hesitating to exploit significant gold, diamond and uranium deposits.

Armed soldiers from MINUSCA, the 11,000-strong UN mission in the country, guarded polling stations while attack helicopters circled in the skies over Bangui. Armored vehicles from a 900-soldier French military contingent patrolled the streets.

A group of electoral observers are initially refused entry by United Nations peacekeepers as their ballots are taken into another polling station for counting at the end of the presidential and legislative elections in the mostly Muslim PK5 neighbourhood.

Central African Republic is a highly unstable country. The country recently suffered a crisis in early 2013, after president Francois Bozize was ousted from power.

Violence by Christian groups against Muslims rose in the country in February 2014, when the country’s first Muslim leader, Michel Djotodia, was forced to step down in a coup and went into exile. Djotodia’s departure caused more violence.

In towns, villages and even in the capital, Christian groups such as the Anti-balaka wielding machetes have killed scores of Muslims, who are a minority, and burned and looted their houses and mosques.

"This isn't the Muslims' country; this is our country" - graffiti written on the wall of a destroyed mosque in Carnot, Central African Republic

A fifth of the Central African Republic's population have fled their homes to escape the violence, leaving the impoverished country divided along ethnic and religious lines. Some Muslims were forcibly converted to Christianity.

The presidential election, along with a parliamentary vote, is intended to restore democratic rule as a crucial step towards ending three years of inter-religious bloodshed which have led to the de facto partition of the country.

TRTWorld and agencies