Central African Republic holds constitutional referendum

Dec 14, 2015

The holding of the referendum is a test for the organization of the presidential and legislative ballots scheduled for 27 December. Photo/ UNDP CAR

On 13 December 2015, voters in the Central African Republic (CAR) went to the polls to give their judgment on the draft Constitution. Despite the late opening of voting stations in certain districts and the sound of gunfire early in the morning (in the third and fifth arrondissements), the voters were able to do their civic duty.

The holding of the referendum is a test for the organization of the presidential and legislative ballots scheduled for 27 December, and that will bring an end to a period of transition that has lasted almost three years.

"The people of the CAR have realized that the political process should be forged through the ballot box and that democracy is the only laudable and honourable path for emerging from the crisis," declared Marie-Madeleine N'kouet Hoornaert, the President of the National Authority for Elections (ANE) in the CAR.

Nzabani Natacha, a resident of Bangui, said that she had voted not only to comply with her civic duty, but especially because she has high expectations regarding the vote. She ventured to hope that her country will store peace and order thanks to the new constitution. "It is my hope that our country can develop, that more businesses will be established in the CAR, that the rate of unemployment will come down, and that we can live in peace."

The organization of the elections in the CAR is a significant challenge in view of the recurring political and military crises that the country has experienced for many years. These crises have undermined the social fabric and jeopardized the country´s development outlook.

To address the challenges involved in financing the elections, various partners are making contributions to the “common basket of funds” to support the post-crisis electoral process. Thus, through an integrated team, the partners (the European Union, the African Union, the USA, France, Italy, Japan, the Kingdom of Morocco, Luxembourg, the Republic of the Congo, UNDP, MINUSCA and UN WOMEN) are contributing their technical and financial know-how to the National Authority for Elections (ANE) in the CAR.

Through the Project to Support the Electoral Cycle in the Central African Republic (PACEC) for the period 2014-2016, the UNDP has supported the ANE in establishing electoral lists as well as in the training and management polling station staff, and also through the procurement and transportation of election equipment.

The UNDP Resident Representative, Aurélien Agbénonci, emphasized the fact that the election will take place in a context that is particularly sensitive, where unfortunately pockets of violence still exist in some parts of the country: "The electoral process must not be tarnished by violence. The people of the CAR who have joined the electoral rolls in huge numbers are calling for a change in their country… It is possible to vote without people killing each other, and it is possible to vote without people fighting each other, because ultimately what we need is a fair contest, a contest that will usher in peace and see the country get back on its feet," Agbénonci went on to say.

Agbénonci welcomes the fact that the entire political class has signed onto the Code of Good Conduct for political parties and candidates. This development demonstrates that the people of the CAR and political leaders are committed to the success of the electoral process. Finally he noted that the only way out of the crisis is through peace and reconciliation.

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