BANGUI, 27 December 2020 – Citizens of the Central African Republic (CAR) are voting Sunday in presidential and legislative elections marred by violence between government and rebel forces.
Reports say turnout is high in most towns across the country, despite efforts by rebels to intimidate or chase away people from polling stations in a few towns.
Some of the 13,000 United Nations peacekeepers in the country along with government forces patrolled the streets of the country’s main towns on Sunday as voting was in progress.
Incumbent president Faustin-Archange Touadera is seeking a second term in office.
The government rejected calls to postpone the elections on the basis of insecurity after rebel groups attacked and seized several towns in the fortnight before Sunday’s ballot.
Former president Francois Bozize denied any involvement with the rebels after the government accused him of plotting a coup.
Shortly after voting started on Sunday, Bozize expressed support for the rebel groups, urging people not to vote.
Bozize was barred from running in the election after the constitutional court pointed to United Nations sanctions against him as casting a shadow over the moral qualifications all candidates need to show in order to be on the ballot.
On Friday, the United Nations condemned the killing of three peacekeepers, hailing from Burundi, as a possible war crime.
Two other peacekeepers were injured in the attack, which took place in Bakouma and Dekoa in the center of the country.
Russia has allied with President Faustin-Archange Touadera.
in the week preceding the vote, Russian sent 300 Russian military instructors to CAR, following a request for help from the government, according to a statement by Moscow.
Russian forces are not involved in the fighting in the country.
Rwanda, which has soldiers among the 13,000 United Nations peacekeeping force, also in the course of the week sent an additional 850 soldiers called a “protection force” to CAR.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda said the additional troops are on standby to protect Rwandese forces should they once more come under attack from rebel groups as they did last week.
Also, last week, hundreds of refugees from CAR fled into neighboring Cameroun, according to United Nations and Cameroun government officials.