Early Sunday December 27, Central African Republic Voters began casting their ballots as they seek to elect a new President and members of the legislative assembly.
Sixteen candidates are vying for the presidency.
Rwandan soldiers, UN peacekeepers and local army were seen patrolling the streets throughout the capital, with armoured vehicles posted outside voting places armed with machine guns.
The voting is a culmination of an aggressive campaign period and a turbulent week marked by accusations of an attempted coup, the brief seizure of the CAR’s fourth-largest town and the dispatch of military personnel by Russia and Rwanda to help its beleaguered government.
“I think this vote will change our country, whoever the president will be,” teacher Hortense Reine said outside a voting place in Boganda secondary school in the city’s east, where around 30 people were queueing.
On December 19, the government accused armed groups of banding together and advancing on the capital Bangui in a plot allegedly fomented by ousted former president Francois Bozize, a charge he denies.
On Tuesday, the CAR’s fourth-largest town, Bambari, 380 km northeast of Bangui, was overrun by an armed group called the Unity for Peace in Central Africa (UPC).
Security forces backed by UN peacekeepers regained control the following day.