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Former PM Touadera Elected CAR President

FILE - Former Prime Minister Faustin Archange Touadera casts his ballot in the second round of presidential election and the first round of legislative elections in Bangui, Central African Republic, Feb. 14, 2016. Touadera was declared winner of the election Feb. 20.

Faustin Archange Touadera, former prime minister of the Central African Republic, on Saturday was declared the winner of the February 14 presidential election.

Marie Madeleine Nkoet, president of the national election authority, read poll results to reporters, saying Touadera had come in first with 695,000 votes, or 62.7 percent. Georges Anicet Dologuele, who came in first in the first round, obtained just over 413,000 votes in the runoff, or 37.3 percent, she said.

Out of 1.95 million registered voters, 1.15 million cast ballots, about 59 percent.

Results of the first round of the parliamentary poll were not announced Saturday but were expected soon.

Touadera supporters, including many of the city’s taxi drivers, celebrated his victory noisily, and celebrations looked set to continue into the night.

Touadera’s campaign director, Simplice Sarandji, reacted to the election results by saying it was not the time for invective but time for peace and love. He called on all Central Africans to commit to living in harmony with each other in the interests of the nation.

It is hoped the elections will close a particularly turbulent chapter in CAR history. In the conflicts of the past four years, the government, which always had difficulty exercising authority outside the capital, virtually ceased to exist.

Security in the country is still largely provided by some 13,000 international peacekeepers, and the administration depends on subsidies from donors. The new president has pledged to rebuild the state, working closely with the international community.

Observers said Touadera's election victory stemmed from the reputation he gained as prime minister between 2008 and 2013, when government worker salaries were paid regularly.

Although only some 24,000 Central Africans are on the government’s payroll, many of them help provide for dozens of people besides their immediate families.