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Central African Republic Reports Smooth Presidential Run-Off Elections

Francois Bozize who presides over the Central Africa Republic, casts his vote in Bangui
In the Central African Republic, people lined up early Sunday to vote in the second round of presidential and legislative elections. Poll monitors say the voting was smooth and fair. Results are not expected for several days.

Voters are choosing between presidential candidates Martin Ziguele and incumbent Francois Bozize, as well as 87 members of the national assembly, who failed to gain more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round.

A local journalist, Maka Gbosso Koto, who was at a voting center in the Galadaja district of CAR's capital, Bangui, said he believes the elections are open, and says the atmosphere is not at all tense.

Mr. Koto says people are voting very quickly, and the second round of elections was well organized.

Security forces were visible on the streets, but keeping a low profile.

An election monitor for presidential candidate Martin Ziguele, Manuel Bonbetouma, said that turnout is not as high as the first round.

Speaking from a voting center in Galadaja, Mr. Bonbetouma said that, the voting has been smooth. He said he believes his candidate, Mr. Ziguele, has a good chance of winning.

A former prime minister, Mr. Ziguele won 23 percent of the vote in the first round of voting in March, while incumbent Francois Bozize led with 43 percent. Sunday's elections are set to end two years of military rule under Mr. Bozize, a former army general who came to power in a coup in 2003.

Mr. Bozize, who cast his vote Sunday morning, accompanied by his wife, said democracy has been restored in his country, and called the elections a unique occasion.

Many hope that fair elections will help stabilize the mineral rich, but poor country, which has had multiple coups since independence.

Over 300 national and international election monitors are in the country to observe the second round of elections. The opposition said voting and vote-counting in the first round was marred by fraud.