President Faustin-Archange Touadera has won Central African Republic’s December 27 presidential election by securing more than 53% of votes in the first round, according to provisional results announced by the electoral commission on Monday.
“Faustin-Archange Touadera, having received the absolute majority of the vote in the first round with 53.9%, is declared winner,” Mathias Morouba, president of the electoral commission, told a news conference in the capital, Bangui.
The election was marred by a coordinated offensive by rebel groups who tried to disrupt the vote after the constitutional court last month rejected several candidates, including former President Francois Bozize.
Attacks and the destruction of voting materials, including on election day, prevented voting in several towns.
Morouba said about half of the country’s electorate, or around 910,000 people, had registered to vote and turnout among the registered voters was 76.3%.
The crisis left many in the diamond- and gold-rich nation of 4.7 million exhausted, while stirring fears of a return to the worst violence of its recent past, which includes five coups and numerous rebellions since independence from France in 1960.
Touadera was first elected in 2016 following a rebellion three years earlier that ousted Bozize. He has struggled to wrest control of vast swathes of the country from armed militias.
Successive waves of violence since 2013 have killed thousands and forced more than a million from their homes.
Touadera and the United Nations, which has over 12,800 uniformed peacekeepers in CAR, have accused Bozize of being behind the rebel offensive, which briefly seized the country’s fourth largest city last week and has led to a wave of desertions from the army.
Bozize’s candidacy was rejected because he faces an arrest warrant and U.N. sanctions for allegedly ordering assassinations and torture while president. Bozize has denied those charges.
Touadera’s international security partners have responded to the latest violence by sending additional troops and equipment, including 300 Russian military instructors and 300 Rwandan peacekeepers.