People in the Central African Republic (CAR) voted on Sunday to elect the country's president for the next four years. This is the first voting since a peace deal was signed between the

government and 14 rebel groups in February 2019, although fighting continues. This agreement is historic, that’s why the legitimate and peaceful nature of these elections is very important.  

The election was overshadowed by violence between the government and rebel forces. Militias hostile to Touadera had stepped up attacks across the CAR since the constitutional court rejected several candidates, including former President Francois Bozize. His candidacy was rejected because he faces an arrest warrant and U.N. sanctions for allegedly ordering assassinations and torture while being president.

A lot of politicians and international actors have been critical of Bozize's attempted rebellion. MINUSCA (the local UN office, which has over 12,800 uniformed peacekeepers in the CAR) released a communique in which it officially stated that Bozize had allied with armed groups to disrupt the peace and electoral process.

The rebels called for postponing the elections. But the Constitutional Court of the CAR did not satisfy this requirement.  

Earlier Russia sent military specialists to the CAR to prevent violence and establish peace in the country. Rwanda  also provided assistance.

Through joint efforts of the contingents, it was possible to take control of most of the country. For the first time in the history of the CAR, such a large number of voters in such a territory were able to vote.

The elections were attended by observers from international organizations and other countries.  They noted that the elections had been held legitimately and without significant violations. In particular, he local head of the United Nations, Mankeur Ndiaye, considered the election in the capital a "success".  

Touadera's main challenger is the former head of government, Anicet-Georges Dologuele, who is backed by Bozize. The election will go to a second round if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote.  Results will be announced on January 4th. 

Incumbent President Faustin-Archange Touadera is considered the favourite in the presidential race. He is supported by the majority of the country's population.

Touadera's victory in the elections will ensure peace in the country - this is the most important thing for the CAR now. This African country has never seen peace since independence from France 60 years ago.

 Jesutimilehin Akamo, The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic