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Christians and Muslims go to the polls in CAR

by Hannah Tooley

The elections have been repeatedly postponed by authorities because of violence in the capital Bangui.

Mainly Muslim rebels, from the Seleka group, seized power in the mostly Christian nation in 2013, which provoked Christian militant attacks, from the anti-balaka, and began a cycle of religious and inter-communal killing.

Johan Eldebo, World Vision senior humanitarian policy adviser, told Premier that Christian and Muslim leaders tell him "this conflict is being portayed as one of religion, it's not really that, it's a political process, where the sides have been aligned along religious lines, but the conflict as such has very little to do with faith."

He continued: "People have been using religion to divide people along political lines, but religion per-say is not actually the issue."

Around a million people have been driven from their homes, out of a population of around five million.

In total thirty candidates are competing for the presidency, but opinion polls have not been conducted in the country.

Leading candidates are thought to be former prime ministers Anicet-Georges Dologuele and Martin Ziguele.

During a referendum on a new constitution for CAR in December gunmen attacked voters in the capital and elsewhere in the country.

Johan Eldebo continued: "In a country like the Central African Republic, that has a history of violence, a history of coup d'etats and of violence being used for positions of power, having elections that are not violence is a key milestone."

Listen to Premier's Hannah Tooley speak to Johan Eldebo here:

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