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CAR Elections Postponed Three Days

  • VOA News

The United Nations said Thursday that a decision by the Central African Republic to postpone next week's elections by three days was not a setback for the struggling country.

"I think, obviously, given the very delicate security situation going on in the country, it's important that the elections take place in the best possible way," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in New York.

He said the U.N. peacekeeping mission would help authorities distribute ballots and back the C.A.R. forces with security;.

"This was a decision taken by the Central African electoral authorities themselves. It is their process. It is their elections to run, and we are there to support them," Dujarric said.

Voting for president and parliament was scheduled for Sunday. The date was changed to Wednesday after C.A.R. officials decided they needed extra time to organize the vote.

Officials have said they have limited means to protect voters, especially outside the capital.

French and U.N. peacekeepers helped safeguard polling places in a referendum on a new constitution earlier this month.

Voters overwhelmingly approved reforms limiting the president to two five-year terms, cutting the power of the military and strengthening protections for religious freedom.

Next week's elections are aimed at restoring democracy to the C.A.R. nearly three years after Islamic rebels overthrew President Francois Bozize.

The brief Islamic takeover of the government gave rise to a Christian militia that has been engaged in particularly brutal violence against Muslims.

Many Christians are angry over a court decision barring Bozize from running again.