Central African Republic elections 'credible', says govt

Thousands of people were prevented from voting because of the threat of violence from rebels fighting to oust President Faustin Archange Touadera, said local leaders and UN workers who asked not to be named.

FILE: Egyptian commandos of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) patrol in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), as they pass an election poster of CAR President Faustin Archange Touadera on 25 December 2020. Picture: AFP.

BANGUI - Central African Republic's legislative and presidential elections were legitimate and credible, a government spokesperson insisted on Tuesday, after the first round held this weekend was marred by violence.

While residents in the capital Bangui turned out in large numbers and voted peacefully Sunday, many others could not because of the activities of rebels who control two-thirds of the country.

"We have had credible, committed, and popular elections," government spokesperson Ange Maxime Kazagui told journalists in Bangui.

"Certain people have been saying that these elections should not have taken place and that everything should be done to scare and discourage Central Africans," he added.

"Despite that, Central Africans showed their firm will to go and vote, despite the dangers."

Thousands of people were prevented from voting because of the threat of violence from rebels fighting to oust President Faustin Archange Touadera, said local leaders and UN workers who asked not to be named.

Out of a total of 71 sub-prefectures, only 29 voted, the minister for territorial administration Augustin Yangana-Yahote told journalists Monday.

"And in six other sub-prefectures there was only a partial vote," Theophile Momokoama, the general rapporteur for the National Election Authority (ANE) told AFP.

It is against this background that international experts and opposition figures are already questioning the legitimacy of any newly elected deputies. The opposition had already denounced the vote as rigged before election day.

But Kazagui said the election had taken place in all 16 of the nation's prefectures and 85 percent of voting stations had opened.

"No threshold has been fixed for the legitimacy of a vote," he said.

"We have seen in the West turn-out rates of sometimes 40%, but these elections have been accepted," he argued.

Representing the African Union, Modibo Sidibe, former prime minister of Mali, acknowledged that the election had passed off peacefully in Bangui.

Outside the capital, sporadic fighting has been going on for more than a week and scattered incidents were reported early on Sunday.

Partial results are expected on Monday with the final totals by 19 January.

A runoff will be held on February 14 if there is no outright winner in the first round. Touadera, 63, is strongly favoured to win a second term.

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