March 13, 2005


High Turnout Marks Election in Central African Republic (Nico Colombant, 13 March 2005, VOA News)

Voters in the Central African Republic are turning out in very large numbers in post-conflict elections. Coup leader turned interim President Francois Bozize faces 10 challengers in the main presidential poll, while a new parliament is also being selected.

Because of a late start and long lines, many polling stations in the capital extended voting for several hours.

During the day, several melees broke out, while would-be voters waited up to four hours under a blazing sun before being able to cast their ballots. Some fainted, while others shaded themselves under colorful umbrellas.

One young woman, Christiane, voting for the first time, said it was worthwhile to be patient.

"When people say to vote, I think it means democracy," she said. "The power of people, by people, for people. So people can choose who can drive our country." [...]

[Former military chief turned coup leader, Mr. Bozize] said it was an exceptional moment, and that democracy was taking root. He said he was very proud of his own contribution, and that the Central African Republic can no longer afford to go backwards after years of civil strife. [...]

Some said this was an important test for the region as well, as it is the first of a series of post-conflict elections this year. Others are scheduled in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Ivory Coast.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 13, 2005 7:23 AM
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