A referendum on a new constitution in Central African Republic spilled into a second day on Monday after violence marred the first day of a vote intended to help end nearly three years of instability. A Red Cross official said five people were killed and 34 others were wounded during clashes in the capital Bangui which the military commander of the U.N. peacekeeping mission said was an attempt by “spoilers” to block the vote. The referendum is a precursor to long-delayed presidential and legislative elections due on Dec. 27.
“Since 7 o’clock this morning (3 a.m. EDT), thousands of people are voting,” said Ousmane Abakar, a spokesman for the Muslim community of PK5, the main Muslim enclave in Bangui and the site of Sunday’s clashes. “We are determined to vote despite (yesterday’s) shooting.”
Voting was due to end by the afternoon and results should be available within 72 hours, said Marie-Madeleine N’Kouet, president of the National Elections Authority (ANE).
Former colonial power France has been among nations pushing interim authorities to hold elections, saying they are the only way to end a cycle of violence that began when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in 2013.