The African Union's Peace and Security Council will meet to decide when to lift its suspension of the Central African Republic once a legitimate president is chosen and inaugurated, an AU official said Wednesday as the CAR held elections aimed at returning constitutional rule to the country.
The CAR was suspended following the 2013 overthrow of President Francois Bozize, and the subsequent turmoil after rebel leader-turned president Michel Djotodia was forced to resign. Many lives were lost in the ethnic and religion-based violence that forced many citizens to flee their homes to safer areas and to neighboring countries.
The bloc is committed to its principle of “zero tolerance” of the unconstitutional or violent overthrow of a constitutionally elected government, said the AU's commissioner for political affairs, Aisha Laraba Abdullahi.
“We have taken very strict and serious measures on our member states that have violated our instruments... We insist that Africa must be governed and governed properly, that constitutionalism and rule of law should be upheld - that the era of human rights should be ushered in, that all our citizenry should be protected in whatever place they find themselves,” said Abdullahi.
“We push for credible elections. We understand that this election in the Central African Republic is happening after a series of violence in the country; but, we hope that whomever is elected as the next president of the Central African Republic will ensure further stability in that richly endowed country that has been pillaged and has suffered over a period of time.”
Wednesday's vote was largely peaceful, according to observers, despite concerns about possible violence. Security officers were deployed to ensure a peaceful atmosphere for voters.
A man casts his ballot during elections in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 30, 2015.
Former Senegalese prime minister Souleymane Ndene Ndiaye headed an AU observer mission that monitored the vote. His team of 30 short-term observers represented the Pan African Parliament, the Permanent Representatives Committee of the African Union, election management bodies, civil society organizations, research organizations, media and academic institutions.
Commissioner Abdullahi said the African Union supported the country’s electoral commission by providing financial and logistical help so the poll could be administered. She also voiced hope for a peaceful future for the African nation.
“With the election held today, we are confident that the transition in the Central African Republic is coming to an end, and that this would usher in peace and stability and prosperity to the Central African Republic,” said Abdullahi.
“Our engagement with the Central African Republic will not just remain with the election. After the elections, we shall support the country to rebuild its institutions…A lot of things have to be done, but we remain committed to support this country to return to normalcy after the elections.”