UNITED NATIONS - The head of the U.N. mission in the Central African Republic says registration for the upcoming elections is progressing, and that nearly a quarter of all eligible voters have registered to cast ballots.
Babacar Gaye told the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday that nearly a half-million eligible voters have registered, mostly in the capital, Bangui, and the process is getting underway in the rest of the country.
He underscored the importance of registering the roughly 400,000 citizens who have become refugees since intercommunal violence erupted between Muslim and Christian militias in 2013.
Gaye said between 75 percent and 85 percent of the refugees are Muslims, and their participation in the electoral process is vital to the reconciliation process.
“Their participation to this vote is an additional step toward reconciliation and rebuilding of the social fabric of the country,” he said.
He also noted that the country’s constitutional court has been very clear that refugees should participate in the elections.
“I am confident that the national transitional parliament will defer to this decision,” he told reporters after briefing the Council. “So they [the refugees] are going to take part in the vote.”
Gaye said the inclusivity of the elections will be an important indicator of their credibility.
A constitutional referendum is scheduled for October 4, 2015, and the first round of presidential and legislative elections is set for October 18. A second round of voting is slated for November 22.
Gaye also told Council members that many parts of CAR are still targeted by armed groups, with the U.N. mission often getting reports of harassment, racketeering, arbitrary detention and serious violations of human rights.