CAR on the cusp of democratic governance? | Africa | DW | 12.02.2016
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CAR on the cusp of democratic governance?

Voters will be going to the polls in a weekend run-off election in the Central African Republic that many hope will bring peace to the country after its worst outbreak of sectarian violence since independence in 1960.

The second round of the presidential election in the Central African Republic (CAR) on Sunday (14.02.2016) will be between two former prime ministers: Anicet Georges Dologuele, who won 23.7 percent in the first round of voting on December 30, and his nearest rival, Faustin Archange Touadera, who garnered 19.4 percent.

Dologuele is a 58-year-old former central banker known as 'Mr Clean' after his attempts to bring transparency to murky public finances when in office. He has been highlighting his finance experience while touting a plan to attract foreign investors to one of the world's poorest countries.

According to the World Bank, CAR had an estimated per capita annual income of just $320 (285 euros) in 2014, despite substantial natural resources such as uranium, diamonds, gold and timber.

Zentralafrikanische Republik - Anicet Georges Doleguele

Anicet Georges Doleguele won the first round of the presidential elections in December

Touadera, Dologuele's rival, also 58, is a former math professor, an outsider in the race, who sprang from nowhere to second position. His popularity stems from a measure he introduced when prime minister - the payment of government salaries directly into bank accounts, ending decades of pay arrears and unpaid wages. He has been casting himself as a leader capable of combating corruption and uniting the country across religious and ethnic divides.

The elections are expected to be close and take place amid tension springing from chronic unrest.

Hundreds of thousands displaced

The most recent episode of bloodletting was sparked by the ousting of long-serving president Francois Bozize in March 2013 by Seleka, a mainly Muslim rebel alliance. They installed Michel Djotodia as the first Muslim leader of the predominately Christian country.

Djotodia stepped down in January 2014 after disbanding the Seleka, but attacks on Christians by rogue Muslim forces persisted. They led to brutal reprisals against Muslim districts by Christian "anti-balaka" militias.

Faustin Archange Touadera Ex-Premier Zentralafrikanische Republik

Presidential Faustin Archange Touadera wants to attract foreign investors to CAR

Thousands were slaughtered in a spiral of atrocities that drove close to half a million from their homes.

An interim president and administration was appointed to lead the country to democratic governance and their efforts, backed by the UN, are set to culminate in Sunday's elections.

As well as choosing a new president, voters will also cast their ballots in the re-run of a parliamentary election which was held on December 30, but was then annulled. 1,800 candidates will be competing for 105 seats in the National Assembly.

The CAR's own security forces, estimated to number 8,000, are expected to be patrolling areas on polling day where tensions remain high. 11,000 UN peacekeepers and 900 French troops are also stationed in CAR.

These forces have stabilized the situation, but they don't control the huge country.

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