Voters were queuing outside polling stations in the Central African Republic on Wednesday morning to elect a president and new parliament in elections seen as vital to restore stability to the region.
Snaking queues had formed outside polling stations in the capital Bangui long before the scheduled 6am start, but in many places voting was delayed for a few hours by technical glitches. The PK-5 district, a Muslim neighbourhood where five people were killed during voting in a referendum on 13 December, was one of the areas affected by the late arrival of voting materials.
Security in PK-5 was tight. UN troops patrolled the neighbourhood, which has been a focal point in clashes between rebels from the Muslim minority and Christian militia, but voters’ enthusiasm was high. Central Africans cited the poor credibility of the transitional government, weakened institutions and the desire for stronger authorities as among their reasons for going out to vote.
Margaux Benn, RFI correspondent in Bangui, said: “Voting is carrying on without too many issues in Bangui and in the provinces. In hot points like Bombari and anti-Balaka strongholds, voting is actually happening without any issue and the turnout is quite impressive.”
The legislative and presidential elections in the Central African Republic have been delayed a number of times, mainly for security reasons after violence broke out during the constitutional referendum on 13 December. Dealing with disarmament and bolstering the decimated economy will be among the priorities for the newly elected president of the Central African Republic.