Central African Republic’s presidential election will probably go to a runoff vote, partial results show, with the two front-runners set to fall short of an outright victory.
With about three-quarters of the ballots counted, former Prime Minister Anicet-Georges Dologuele has won 259,327 votes, while former Premier Faustin-Archange Touadera has secured 228,453, according to the country’s election agency. Full results could be announced at the weekend.
There’s "no doubt" that Dologuele and Touadera will go to the second round since 77 percent of the votes have already been tallied, Fernande Sakanoth, a spokesperson with the National Electoral Agency, said on Wednesday. A runoff would be held Jan. 31 if no candidate secures a majority in the first round.
The country’s interim government has rejected a request by 15 other candidates to suspend counting votes from the Dec. 30 election, saying their concerns about irregularities are insignificant. The candidates have said they may go to the constitutional court to demand an annulment of the vote if a political solution isn’t found.
The election is seen as crucial to ending the lawlessness that has gripped the country since mainly Muslim rebel militias known as Seleka overthrew the government in March 2013, sparking reprisals by mostly Christian fighters. The conflict has forced almost a million people to flee their homes, with more than half seeking shelter in neighboring countries.
The Central African Republic was the world’s 10th-biggest diamond producer by value in 2012, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Trade in the country’s precious stones was banned a year later after the Kimberley Process, which seeks to halt the sale of gems from war zones, said there was no way to determine whether so-called conflict diamonds were being shipped.