Yesterday’s presidential and legislative elections in the Central African Republic (CAR), a major step on the path to stability after two years of conflict between Muslims and Christians, were an “undeniable success” with a massive turnout, the top United Nations official there said today.
Even so, in a sign of the perils facing CAR after fighting between the mainly Muslim Séléka and mainly Christian anti-Balaka groups has killed thousands and driven hundreds of thousands more from their homes, armed elements attacked troops and police from the UN Mission in CAR (MINUSCA) in Bangui, the capital, today as they loaded electoral materials into a truck.
Three police were injured, two of them seriously, in the attack near the Fatima school in the sixth district.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative in CAR, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, called on all sides to follow through on this first round of polls in choosing a new Government, stressing that a full dialogue among all is vital for national reconciliation, and urging courage and determination in fighting impunity.
“MINUSCA will continue to play its role as a catalyst for international efforts to support a determined and coordinated push for peace, justice and sustainable development,” he said in a communique.
The UN has played a major role in seeking to restore peace in the country, with military and police units from the 11,000-strong MINUSCA joining soldiers from the French Sangaris force and local security teams yesterday at polling stations throughout CAR to ensure a peaceful vote.
Polls closed in a positive atmosphere without any major security incidents, the Mission reported. Some stations remained open until all those waiting in line cast their votes. Soon after stations closed, MINUSCA began securing the collection and transportation of ballots from the central processing point.
After nine months of improved stability in CAR, earlier this year a new wave of inter-communal violence erupted in September, killing at least 130 people, injuring 430 others, and triggering an 18 per cent increase in the number of internally displaced persons to 447,500.