C. African Republic constitution vote extended amid violence
BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Central African Republic’s National Election Authority has extended a vote on a constitutional referendum in areas where violence prevented people from going to the polls.
The referendum is meant to usher in stability after years of conflict. The vote is also seen as a test of whether national elections can take place Dec. 27 after several delays.
The country’s transitional Prime Minister Mahamat Kamoun said despite Sunday’s violence there was still a massive turnout.
Polls re-opened Monday in the PK5 neighborhood of the capital, Bangui, where gunfire killed at least two people and injured more than 20 others Sunday.
The election authority said the vote would be extended Tuesday in the northern town of Kaga-Bandoro.
U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said Monday voting had also be extended in the towns of Birao, Bossangoa and Ndele.
Three peacekeepers were injured on Sunday in violence in Bria and Bangui, Ladsous said.
“With only two weeks until the first round of elections, time is of the essence to further contain such attempts by the spoilers,” Ladsous said.
Violence has displaced many, and Ladsous said about one-third of potential voters among the refugees were registered.
A report from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to the Security Council, dated Nov. 30, said just 27 percent of the estimated 198,000 potential voters among refugees had been registered.
It was unclear how long the vote would be extended.
Central African Republic descended into conflict in 2013 when Muslim Seleka rebels overthrew the Christian president. That ushered in a brutal reign in which Muslims committed atrocities. When the rebel leader left power the following year, a swift and horrific backlash by the Christian anti-Balaka militia against Muslim civilians followed and sectarian violence has continued.
Associated Press writer Cara Anna at the United Nations contributed to this report.