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Voters in CAR Show Overwhelming Support for New Constitution

  • VOA News

Voters line up outside a polling station in Bangui, to vote for a constitutional referendum, Dec. 13, 2015.

Voters line up outside a polling station in Bangui, to vote for a constitutional referendum, Dec. 13, 2015.

Voters in the Central African Republic appear to have overwhelmingly approved a new constitution aimed at stopping more than three years of violence between Muslims and Christians.

Preliminary results from Sunday's referendum show 90 percent voting yes.

Voting in parts of the country where militias threatened violence, including a Muslim neighborhood in Bangui, was postponed. Those ballots have yet to be counted.

The Red Cross says five people were killed and at least 20 others injured Sunday as supporters and opponents of the referendum traded gunfire in Bangui.

Hundreds marched to the headquarters of U.N. peacekeepers in the capital Wednesday, demanding that the "enemies of peace" be driven out.

If passed, the new constitution would limit the president to two five-year terms, cut the power of the military, and ensure religious freedom.

Elections for a new president and parliament are scheduled for later this month.

Thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands driven from their homes since Muslim Seleka rebels briefly seized power in CAR and ousted President Francois Bozize. This led to the rise of a Christian militia and brutal fighting between Christians and Muslims.

Christians also are angered about a court decision barring Bozize from running in the upcoming election.

A U.N. peacekeeping force is in CAR and Pope Francis visited last month, urging peace.

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