Dakar – The strife-torn Central African Republic is in a position to hold planned elections on schedule over the coming months, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday.
“We are in a position to hold the first round before the end of the year and the second round early next year,” he said on the sidelines of an international forum in Dakar on peace and security in Africa.
His comments came as new clashes erupted in the capital of Bangui between Muslims and members of a largely Christian militia. A police source said one person was killed by gunfire and several houses torched.
Outbreaks of violence in Bangui led to the cancellation of presidential and parliamentary polls scheduled for October 18.
The latest timetable proposes a constitutional referendum on December 6, to be followed by a first round of presidential and legislative elections on December 13.
If a second, run-off round is called for, it would take place on January 24, 2016.
Le Drian said holding to the schedule was possible “because the census [of voters] has been completed. That is no longer an argument to delay it.”
But he noted that it was up to the members of the Economic Community of Central African States to make a final decision on the election calendar in the former French colony.
“The fact that this [election] date is approaching is leading to major tensions..,” he said, noting that some in the country do not want the polls.
Faced with this situation, Le Drian noted “concern but also determination to push the process through to the end.”
But a number of politicians argue that the country is not ready for elections either financially or on security grounds.
One of the poorest and most unstable countries in Africa, the CAR plunged into chaos after president Francois Bozize, a Christian, was ousted in a coup in March 2013.
The mainly Muslim Seleka rebels behind the coup went on a bloody rampage that triggered the emergence of equally dangerous militias in mostly Christian communities.
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