BANGUI, Central African Republic — Two former Central African Republic premiers, Anicet Georges Dologuele and Faustin Archange Touadera, will vie for the presidency of the nation in the final January 31 round of elections, provisional results showed yesterday.
Dologuele won 23.78 percent of the vote in the first round on December 30, trailed by Touadera, who picked up 19.42 percent, according to the results that still need to be confirmed by the Constitutional Court.
Dologuele, a 58-year-old former central banker, came to be known as "Mr Clean" after his attempts to clean up murky public finances during his spell as premier from 1998 to 2001.
Touadera, also 58, is a former maths professor who served as prime minister under disgraced ousted leader Francois Bozize. He was considered an outsider among the 30 candidates running for the top job.
The National Election Authority (ANE) said turnout at the presidential and parliamentary elections reached a high 79 percent.
Nearly two million people in the country of around five million were eligible to vote in the elections, seen as turning the page on nearly three years of sectarian violence, the deadliest since the country won its independence from France half a century ago.
Despite security concerns, the elections went off without major incident after initial delays caused by logistical glitches.
The head of the UN's MINUSCA peacekeeping mission in the country, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, called on the two remaining candidates in the race for the top job to continue campaigning in "a calm and civil manner" to "preserve the spirit of peace and restraint that has prevailed until now".
One of the world's poorest countries, Central African Republic descended into chaos in 2013 after Bozize was ousted by a mainly Muslim rebel alliance.
Thousands of people were killed and around one in 10 fled their homes in attacks by rogue rebels on remote villages and brutal reprisals by Christian vigilante groups against Muslim communities.
The government on Tuesday dismissed a call for the two-round election to be stopped after several presidential candidates alleged massive fraud and branded the elections a "masquerade."
"There has certainly been fraud in some areas and there have been huge logistical glitches which have disrupted the process but massive fraud is unlikely," said a diplomat yesterday, speaking on condition of anonymity. — AFP