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Central African Republic: Rebels destroy ballot boxes

December 28, 2020

Rebels attacked polling stations following presidential elections on Sunday. Meanwhile, officials found that over 14% of voting centers did not operate after attacks on voters and poll staffers.

An electoral worker counts votes in the capital Bangui on Sunday
An electoral worker counts votes in the capital Bangui on SundayImage: AP Photo/picture alliance

Armed rebels attacked polling stations and destroyed ballot boxes in the Central African Republic following presidential elections on Sunday, a local official said. 

The attacks took place in Carnot, Nola and Bambari in the country's west, said local administration member Evariste Mongo. No injuries were reported.

Meanwhile, more than 14% of polling stations had failed to operate during the elections after the rebels attacked voters and barred electoral staff, the electoral commission said. Many of the armed groups are hostile to President Faustin-Archange Touadera, who is seeking a second term.

About 800 of a total of 5,408 polling stations nationwide did not open, Theophile Momokouama, an executive of the electoral authority, told a news conference in Bangui.

'Voters brutalized, threatened with death'

"There were localities where voters were brutalized, threatened with death. The electoral staff were forbidden to deploy on the ground," Momokouama said.

"As of today, we do not know the proportion of Central Africans who were able to vote," he added.

Momokouama said the commission was waiting for results from regions for collation. The commission is expected to then forward the provisional results to the constitutional court, which will publish them.

Trying to broker peace ahead of CAR elections

The resource-rich nation has faced a years-long scourge of conflict. Clashes erupted between a predominantly Muslim rebel coalition and Christian militias after former president Francois Bozize was ousted in 2013. 

On Friday, three UN peacekeepers were killed after an attack on domestic security forces and the MINUSCA mission in Dekoa, Kemo prefecture, and Bakouma in Mbomou prefecture. The rebels are believed to be supported by Bozize, who is barred from re-election.

The attacks were reportedly aimed at curbing the election process.

In Bouar, around 435 kilometers (270 miles) northwest of the capital where heavy gunfire prevented voting, residents were still hiding in their homes on Monday.

Touadera's main opponent is Anicet Georges Dologuele, a former prime minister who is supported by Bozize. Results are expected by the end of the week. The election will go for a second round if no candidate is handed more than 50% of the vote. 

lc/sri (dpa, Reuters)