United Nations agencies voiced concern today about the decision of Central African Republic authorities to deny refugees from the country the right to participate to the presidential election set for this fall.
“The UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Aurélien A. Agbénonci, the [UN] High Commissioner for Refugees, and the entire humanitarian community in the Central African Republic (CAR) expressed deep concerns regarding the decision of the Transitional National Council (CNT) to refuse central African refugees vote in the upcoming presidential elections and the potential impact of this decision on efforts to promote reconciliation and social cohesion in the country,” says a press release issued today by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Since December 2013, approximately 25 per cent of the Central African population has been displaced inside the country and more than 460,000 have fled to Cameroon, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Chad.
Emphasizing how significant that number is, Mr. Agbénonci drew attention to the consequences of such exclusion on the credibility and inclusiveness of the upcoming polls.
“We all want free, transparent, inclusive, and open elections to everyone,” he underlined. “The return of refugees to their country of origin is strictly voluntary and that principle cannot be violated. It is true that the reconciliation process has been initiated, but the decision for refugees to return can only be made by them,” said Mr. Agbénonci.
The date of the first round of presidential and parliamentary elections is 18 October and the possible second round for the presidential election is 22 November. In recent years, the country experienced a major political crisis that led to violent conflict affecting almost all of the population. Approximately 2.7 million people, more than half of the Central African population, are in need of immediate assistance.