The Central African Republic's electoral commission has declared ex-premier Faustin Archange Touadera the winner of last week's presidential runoff vote. He inherits a country wracked by poverty and instability.
Touadera's win was accepted on Saturday by his opponent in the runoff, Anicet Georges Dologuele, according to reports from The Associated Press. Dologuele, another former premier and central banker, had garnered the most votes during the first round last December.
Election commission head Marie-Madeleine Hoornaert N'Kouet said Touadera (pictured) had ended up with nearly 63 percent of the vote in last Sunday's runoff. It involved two million eligible voters. The constitutional court has a week to validate the result.
Thousands of UN peacekeepers had been deployed during the election, though there was also hope that the poll's outcome would bring peace after decades of sectarian violence. Thousands of people have died, and half a million fled to neighboring countries.
Touadera, a former mathematics professor, stood as an independent candidate. He was once prime minister under former president Francois Bozize, who was toppled by the mostly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition in 2013.
Rebel appointee Michel Djotodia stepped down in 2014 after intense international pressure over rights abuses and reprisal attacks by Christian militia fighters known as the anti-Balaka.
Mineral-rich but impoverished
The former French colony is naturally rich in minerals such as uranium, but its population is impoverished.
Both Touadera and Dologuele had run campaigns aimed at unifying the country and building on peace gains made since a visit by Pope Francis.
The elections came after 93 percent of voters backed a constitutional referendum that cleared the way for the poll.
"We will do everything we can so that Central Africans can live together in the Central African Republic," Touadera had told The Associated Press on February 10.
Analysts say Touadera's popularity stemmed from measures he introduced as prime minister, including paying government salaries directly into bank accounts. His presence in the capital Bangui throughout the conflict in 2013 also won him supporters.
Dologuele has worked abroad for a number of international financial organizations.
ipj/jm (AP, AFP)