UN Peacekeepers Killed In Central African Republic Ahead of Sunday Polls 

UN Peacekeepers Killed In Central African Republic Ahead of Sunday Polls 

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Accessdome.com: an accessible web community
By Spy Uganda Correspondent

Unidentified “armed combatants” have killed three peacekeepers from Burundi in the Central African Republic (CAR), the United Nations said on Friday, hours after a rebel coalition fighting the government called off a unilateral truce and reiterated calls for the suspension of a general election scheduled to take place on Sunday 27 December 2020.

READ ALSO: ‘Reasons To Hope’ For Sustainable Peace In Central African Republic – UN Mission Chief

The Killings come as violence escalates a day before CAR voters head to polls to choose a president and a new parliament. The attacks on UN peacekeepers and CAR troops took place in Dekoa, central Kemo prefecture, and in Bakouma, southern Mbomou according to UN reports.

“Three peacekeepers from Burundi were killed and two others were wounded,” the statement said

The attacks came as voters in CAR geared up for presidential and legislative elections deemed a key test for the country’s ability to recover stability after decades of political turmoil and armed conflict.

President Faustin-Archange Touadera, seeking another mandate, is the favourite and expected to win the presidential election in a field of 17 candidates.

READ ALSO: Rwanda, Russia Send Deadly Armed Commandos To Curb Election Violence In Central Africa Republic

But several opposition groups, as well as a recently formed coalition of armed groups the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), have called for a vote delay after CAR’s top court rejected several candidates for the election.

Those barred from contesting include former President Francois Bozize, who was removed in 2013 following a rebellion led by the Seleka fighters.

The CPC, formed on December 19 and drawing from militia groups that together control two-thirds of the country, launched an offensive last week and threatened to march to the capital, Bangui.

The government called the move a “coup”, accusing Bozize of stoking the CPC rebellion to disrupt the election, however, the former president, who is under UN sanctions dismissed the claims.

The rebel alliance’s progress was halted with international help from Russia and Rwanda who sent troops to shore up Touadera’s government, while UN mission in South Sudan also sent 300 peacekeepers to CAR on Thursday to help the country “secure the elections”.

Hours later, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) peacekeeping force said fighting resumed in Bakouma, about 250km (155 miles) east of Bangui. Gunmen had sought to advance down the main highways towards Bangui but were stopped, according to MINUSCA, which has more than 12,500 uniformed troops in the country.

According to reports on the ground, the distribution of the voter cards is ongoing and the electorate of this country who are registered to vote are coming in large numbers to collect their cards and the population is determined to vote tomorrow and the United Nations with the support of the international community to ensure that the vote goes ahead.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday said at least five civilians have been killed while the UN said more than 55,000 people have fled their homes for fear of attacks.

HRW, in a statement on Wednesday, accused the CPC of creating havoc and said the groups that make up the alliance have committed war crimes over the past five years, “including deliberately killing civilians, raping women and girls, and deliberately destroying civilian property”.

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