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Pope Francis warns of violence in CAR after controversial polls | News Central African Republic

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The Pope calls on all parties to reject the hate and hold talks as the opposition calls for last month’s vote to be canceled.

Pope Francis has urged the people of the Central African Republic to refrain from violence after the deeply troubled country staged contested elections.

“I follow closely and with concern the events in the Central African Republic where elections were held recently in which the people showed their will to continue on the path of peace,” the pontiff said on Wednesday after leading prayers for the feast of the Epiphany.

“I call on all parties to join in a fraternal and respectful dialogue, to reject hatred and to avoid all forms of violence,” said Francis, who visited Bangui in November 2015.

Ten opposition candidates called on Tuesday for the cancellation of the December 27 vote that saw the re-election of President Faustin Archange Touadera in this mineral-rich country.

In a joint statement, they said the polls for president and parliament had been “littered with many irregularities” and called for “an outright annulment”.

According to them, only 695,000 registered voters out of 1.8 million were able to vote, which equates to a participation rate of 37% instead of the 76.31% reported by the electoral commission.

The former enclaved French colony is still grappling with the aftershocks of a civil war in 2013 which followed the dismissal of Touadera’s predecessor, François Bozize.

The conflict was reignited before the elections when a coalition of three armed groups attempted to advance on the capital Bangui.

They were arrested by the CAR armed forces and UN peacekeepers, as well as by heavily armed Russian paramilitaries and Rwandan special forces by plane as part of bilateral pacts.

But the government accuses Bozize of being behind what it calls an attempted coup.


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