Central African Republic votes in a presidential election on Wednesday which many hope will signal the end of months of sectarian strife in which thousands have been killed and many more forced from their homes. Wednesday’s elections in Central African Republic have been postponed several times due to violence and logistical problems. Most recently, they were supposed to have taken place last Sunday but were called off partly because of clashes in regions of the country where armed gangs still hold sway. Roland Marchal, researcher with the Paris Institute of Political Sciences, told DW it was a matter for concern that the elections were going ahead before these groups, in the west and east and in parts of the capital Bangui, have been disarmed. “Potentially, it’s very possible for any armed group to keep its major weapons and be able to strike,” he said.
Top electoral officials backed the three day delay because voting materials were not reaching isolated areas and some voters’ cards had yet to be printed and distributed. Polling staff also needed last minute training.
The elections, which also include legislative polls, follow a referendum on constitutional change earlier this month which won the support of 93 percent of voters. This is being seen a reflection of the population’s yearning for peace and a return to normal life.
Violence erupted in CAR in March 2013 after President Francois Bozize was deposed by the Seleka, a mainly Muslim alliance, which installed Michel Djotodia as the first Muslim head of state of a mostly Christian country.