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CAR Holds Presidential, Parliamentary Polls


People stand in line to vote at a school serving as a polling station in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, 23 Jan 2011

People stand in line to vote at a school serving as a polling station in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, 23 Jan 2011

Voters in the Central African Republic went to the polls Sunday for presidential and parliamentary elections.

Witnesses reported seeing long lines at polling stations in the capital, Bangui. However, many stations opened late because voting equipment had not arrived.

President Francois Bozize is favored to win another term. His challengers include former President Ange Felix Patasse, whom Bozize ousted in a 2003 coup, and former Prime Minister Martin Ziguele, who the president beat in the 2005 election.

The president's rivals have already accused him of planning to rig Sunday's poll.

The election was originally set for last April but was delayed due to a lack of funds and insecurity.

The country has several active rebel groups, including the Lord's Resistance Army, which continues to attack rural villages.

The Central African Republic is among the world's poorest countries, despite rich deposits of diamonds, uranium and other minerals. Chronic instability and the country's landlocked position have largely blocked development.

Along with the presidency, voters Sunday cast ballots for 105 seats in parliament. About 1.8 million people were registered to vote.

Results are due to be announced by January 31. A run-off election will be held March 20 if no candidate for president wins an outright majority.


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