The people of the Central African Republic (CAR) trooped out to vote as the country held its run-off elections on Sunday. This election is expected to give closure to the people of CAR after almost 3 years of violence that has killed thousands of people and made thousands more homeless. Elections entered the second round after the first failed to produce a winner because none of the candidates failed to garner over 50 percent of the total votes casted. However, the first two contestants with highest votes in the first round, both former Prime Ministers themselves, made it into the second round. Faustin Arhchange Touadera and Anciet-Georges Dologuele, the two candidates in the second round, are both Christians and have promised the people that there would be peace if elected into office.
The CAR has been divided along religious lines for nearly 3 years now as a result of clashes between the Christian rebel Anti-balaka group and the Muslim Seleka vigilante groups. Touadera and his rival are both Christians, a situation that would not give either candidate an edge over the other. With barely 5 percent of votes separating both candidates in the first round, the second round results has been predicted to be very close. However, some of the candidates have proclaimed support for Touadera, which could maybe tip the scales in his favour even though both candidates have promised a revival of the economy of the country. The results of the run-off elections will be announced in two weeks time.
Turnout was low yesterday amidst what was a peaceful election. With UN peacekeeping soldiers patrolling the streets of the country, all appeared to be serene as the supporters of both candidates came out to vote. However, the low turnout could be due to the fact that more candidates contested in the first round than in the second round. 30 candidates contested in the first round of presidential elections in December. As a result of this drop in number of contestants, most of the citizens that came out to support their candidates in the first round may not be loyal to those in the run-off, or, perhaps, the people do not believe in the electoral process and the electoral body of their country.
The Electoral commission
The country’s electoral body, the National Auhtority for Elections (ANE) was accused of producing inconsistent results in the first round of presidential elections. Some of the candidates claimed there were irregularities in the counting process and wanted an election re-run. However, the country’s Constitutional Court ruled then that the results should stand. Instead, it was the parliamentary elections, which ran concurrently with the first round presidential elections, which were ordered, by the court, to be re-conducted. The decision came a as a surprise to many, since they thought there was no problem with the parliamentary elections. It remains to be seen whether the electoral body, after its counting process in this second round of elections, would announce results that seem fair and representative of the people’s choice. The fact that no violent clash has been recorded during elections in the Central African Republic is a testimony to the giant stride made by this nation to keep the peace.