Central African Republic: peaceful ballots for the 2nd round of presidential elections and the first round of legislative elections

Feb 14, 2016

A voter casts her ballot for the Mayor of Mbaiki, the capital of Lobaye Prefecture, 107 km from Bangui. Photo: UNDP/CAR

Following a first round of voting on 30 December for the presidential elections, without any major incident and with a participation rate of around 80 per cent, almost two million Central Africans went to the polls again on Sunday, 14 February 2016 for the second round. The voting was held together with the "new" first round of parliamentary elections, the previous one having been cancelled by the Transitional Constitutional Court.

"We needed this vote to have a democratically elected head of state. The President who will be elected will express the will of the people. He will be the one who will represent the people and act on behalf of the people, and it is our hope is that this country will end the deadlock that has lasted for such a long time," said Onyanga Owabe, a citizen of the 2nd arrondissement. He welcomed the progress that his country has made towards peace, which he believes is due to the efforts of the international community and even due to the Pope’s visit to the Central African Republic. "Peace is beginning to return to our country. It's been two years that I have not set foot in the Bangui neighbourhood of Km 5, but recently, I went there twice. The last time, I attended the signing ceremony of the pact between Muslims and Christians, I was very moved," he added.

Célestin, accompanied by his sister Martine, both living with disabilities, made the trip to fulfil their civic duty. "We suffered a lot in our country. Three years of crisis, that’s a long time. We want change, we want peace!” he stressed.

And there is the case of Floride, who voted in the hope that security would be restored throughout the country so that she could travel the road again that leads to Cameroon. Since the beginning the crisis, she has stopped her business activities because she could not travel in order to obtain supplies in this neighbouring country.

Young people have also mobilized in large numbers. "The elections are not just for adults or the elderly, but they are also for young people, because they represent the country's wealth. It is up to us, young people, to become aware and to come out in masses to vote, because it is our right. Tomorrow we will be the leaders of this country. Everyone must vote," said Nde Cyril Marechal, 24, a dressmaking student.

Central African Republic was able to meet the challenge of organizing these elections, which were qualified by the biggest election sceptics as wrought with uncertainty, because of several factors derived from and initiatives by national and international partners in the Central African election process.

Also, the National Election Authority with the support of the Integrated Electoral Assistance of the United Nations (UNDP and MINUSCA) has taken steps to ensure that the elections take place in a peaceful climate.  Accordingly, civic education campaigns were held across the country, candidate representatives were trained, the training of electoral agents was strengthened, and the acquisition and delivery of voting materials well in advance enabled an effective deployment.

"Today’s voting is an essential step towards peace, which will allow the Central African Republic to revive democracy and development. The whole world wants Central African Republic to recover from this crisis that has lasted too long," said UNDP Resident Representative and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Aurélien Agbénonci.

According to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, who led a review meeting in the presence of ambassadors and heads of mission at the MINUSCA headquarters, the vote took place without major incident throughout the national territory and the wait for the results should be calm and peaceful.

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