Heavy Security Deployed in the Central African Republic as Voting Begins

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Last year the Central African Republic saw rebels violently contest the re-election of President Faustin Archange Touadera. As voting went on, the insurgents arrived in Bangui around 5:30 and laid siege to the town. Authorities in the town tried to contain the rebels but were outmatched and had to seek reinforcements from the army. As Bangui remained defenseless, the rebels proceeded to block roads strangling food supplies in the region. More than 200,000 people had to flee their homes to seek food and safer shelter. Many others, however, got caught up in the rebels fighting and lost their lives.

Electoral unrest as Voting proceeds

The attack in Bangui kept more than 14% of polling stations in the area closed on election day. Many of those who fled the hostilities ran into neighboring Congo, but many ended up drowning in the river. This kind of violence raised concerns that the Central African Republic was slipping back into the same conflict that had occurred over the past decade. In the past, the Central African Republic saw a conflict arise that led to thousands of people’s deaths.

The United Nations believes former president Francois Bozize backs the rebels. The U.N accuses Bozize that because the constitutional court rejected his candidacy to challenge President Faustin-Archange Touadera, he resulted in causing electoral unrest. Through the unrest, maybe Bozize could overthrow the republic’s institutions and end the democratic process in CAR. Bozize denies any involvement in what the U.N accuses him of. But some of his followers say what the U.N says is not wrong.

Polling Stations Opened across the CAR

This week the Central African Republic saw polling stations opened once again for the second round of parliamentary elections. Authorities across the CAR were anxious to prevent a repeat of the turmoil surrounding the re-election of President Touadera. Because of this, almost all polling stations in the Central African Republic saw heavy security to deter rebels who disrupted the polls in December. According to the electoral body, nearly all the polling stations opened for the second round of the parliamentary elections.

In Zado village, which sits outside the capital Bangui many villagers had only recently returned to their homes after fleeing the fighting in December. The insurgents caused great destruction and left many of the villagers afraid when they tried to seize power. The local polling station director in the region Emmanuel Masemde said only 50 of 300 registered voters turned up as voting began.

In Bangui, on the other hand, small lines of residents could be seen. Many people turned up and waited in line to vote as large numbers of police and gendarmes stood by. The National Elections Authority spokesman Theophille Momokoama reported that only three or four polling stations did not open due to insecurity.

Some voters remained determined to vote despite the obstacles that lay before them. One Eric Malingapa, for instance, walked for 5 km (about 3 miles) in the blazing sun to reach the polling station in his area. Mr. Eric said he did so because it was his right and civic duty to vote.

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