Central African Republic (CAR) will hold presidential and parliamentary elections, seen as critical to drawing a line under a two-year inter-religious conflict, on October 18, a spokesman for the interim government said on June 19.
The country descended into chaos in March 2013 when the predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, sparking reprisals by “anti-balaka” Christian militia, who drove out tens of thousands of Muslims from the south in a de facto partition of the landlocked country.
A transitional authority currently in place is charged with organising elections and restoring democratic rule.
The polls have repeatedly been delayed, however, and a national peace forum last month said that a previous timetable that would have seen elections held in June or July was unrealistic.
Reuters reported Georges Ndamoyen, a spokesman for the transitional authority, as saying the new election calendar had been agreed upon following a meeting between government officials and donors.
The polls will be preceded by an electoral census from June 27 to July 27 and a referendum on a new constitution on October 4, he said. A second round of elections, if required, will be held on November 22.
The polls will require a total budget of CFA20bn ($34.6 million) of which around half had already been collected from government resources and donor funding, Ndamoyen said.
Although the violence in the country has eased in recent months, sporadic killings still occur, fuelled by criminality though deep divisions between Muslims and Christians persist.
A justice ministry statement read on state radio on June 19 stated that a court in the capital Bangui would on June 29 begin trying around 50 cases of alleged crimes involving acts of violence and economic infractions.
The announcement follows interim President Catherine Samba Panza’s signing of a law earlier this month creating a Special Criminal Court to judge crimes committed during the last two years of turmoil.