Video: Tight security ahead of landmark polls in CAR
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The notoriously volatile Central African Republic is preparing to head to the polls on Wednesday for presidential and legislative elections to restore democratic rule under the newly approved constitution. Watch FRANCE 24’s special report.
Many Central Africans hope the December 30 elections will restore democracy after more than three years of political unrest and sectarian violence sparked by the ouster of the country’s then-president, François Bozizé. Thousands have died in the violence and nearly one in five have fled.
The vote will show whether the mineral-rich but poor nation, which passed a new constitution following a December 13 referendum, can close the door on bloodshed to begin an era of peace.
Despite the presence of 11,000 UN and French peacekeepers who will help secure polling stations, large chunks of the country remain cut off, being either under the control of rebel chieftains or bandits.
There are 30 candidates vying for the presidency, including the son of former self-proclaimed emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa. The front-runners include Anicet Georges Dologuele, a former premier widely known as "Mr Clean" for his efforts to wipe out graft and theft. The other leading contenders are another former premier, Martin Ziguele, and Abdoul Karim Meckassoua, who held several ministerial positions under Bozizé.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)