CAR goes into presidential run-off

CAR goes into presidential run-off

- Central African republic voters are voting for a president in a presidential run-off

- Two presidential candidates have both plegded to restore security in the country

CAR goes into presidential run-off

Observers say the vote is taking place at a critical juncture in the history of the Central African Republic

Voters in the Central African Republic (CAR) are going to the polls for the second round of presidential elections.

The vote is seen as a significant step towards restoring peace, stability and democratic government. It comes after the seizure of power by a mainly Muslim rebel group in 2013 led to prolonged bloodshed. There was a turnout of nearly 80% for the first round of voting in December.

Both presidential candidates, former prime ministers Faustin Touadera and Anicet Dologuele, have pledged to restore security and boost the economy. Mr Touadera is portrayed by supporters as a peacemaker who can bridge the Christian-Muslim divide.

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Mr Dologuele served under President Ange-Felix Patasse between 1999 and 2001, and Mr Touadera was prime minister under President Francois Bozize between 2008 and 2013. There are hopes that the poll will help turn the page on years of religious conflict.

Communal reconciliation and reigniting the country's sluggish economy have featured prominently as campaign themes.

CAR goes into presidential run-off

Observers praised the calmness of the first round of voting in December

Christian militias responded to Seleka abuses, with attacks carried out against the Muslim minority community. After regional pressure, an interim administration took charge in January 2014 and later that year a 10,000-strong UN force took over the peacekeeping mission.

The north-east of the country is now mostly under the control of Muslim rebels while Christian militias hold sway the south-west. Thousands died in the fighting and roughly a fifth of the population is thought to have been displaced.

Mr Dologuele has promised voters a break from the country's recent violent past, with the campaign slogan "united we will win".

CAR is one of the world's most unstable countries and was thrown into political chaos three years ago when mostly Muslim Seleka fighters toppled President Bozize.

 

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