On Sunday, Central Africans voted in general elections. The UN Peace Mission in the country talked to a first-time voter about her hopes and dreams.
Voters turned out early to cast their votes in the 27 December 2020 general elections as the country goes to the polls. Security in the country’s capital, Bangui, and other prefectures beefed up in the run-up to the elections – with MINUSCA UN peacekeepers patrolling the streets and guarding polling stations together with Central African security and defence forces.
At the Lycée Boganda voting centre in Bangui, queues started to form as early as 5:00 a.m. in the morning – with young people making up the majority of the expectant voters. Peacekeepers from the MINUSCA Rwanda Contingent were on hand to ensure security. Election observers from MINUSCA, the National Elections Authority (ANE), the Constitutional Court of the Central African Republic, National Council for Youth (CNJ), Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) and the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), among others, were also present.
“Election day could not come soon enough for me,” said Agathon Frederic Pali-Pali Grengon, who arrived to cast his ballot with eight members of his family. “Voting is a civic duty that the Central African electorate should embrace because this is how we will obtain peace, without which we cannot have stability in the country,” he added.
“All I want is democracy, nothing but democracy,” said 26-year-old Boris Dote Ninon emphatically after voting. “I have made a choice to vote so that we can have a president through peaceful means.”
For Marie Claire Biro, election day is about her children. She ventured out to vote despite being scared by the tense security situation as elections approached. “Having never gone to school, I know this is something I can do for my children. Voting is my way of asking for peace,” she explained.
Elections are being held against the backdrop of increased security threats from armed groups and various political actors across the Central African Republic. On the eve of the elections, the UN announced that three peacekeepers from Burundi had lost their lives during an attack on UN and CAR troops in Dekoa, central Kemo prefecture, and in Bakouma, southern Mbomou prefecture on 26 December 2020.
“Today is about ensuring that the country follows a democratic path and consolidates peace,” said the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Denise Brown, while on a tour of several voting centres in Bangui on election day.
“People have come out in large numbers to exercise their right to vote. This is something to celebrate, because we know that there are many people who did everything they could to prevent the elections from taking place,” said the Head of MINUSCA Mankeur Ndiaye while visiting the Lycée Boganda polling centre in Bangui.
Over 1.8 million people registered to take part in the elections – 46.6 percent among them women.