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Outsider takes early lead in CAR presidential race


 (Herve Serefio Diaspora, AP)

Bangui – Early results from Central African Republic’s presidential election on Saturday gave former premier Faustin Archange Touadera a slim lead in the capital after a vote seen as vital to restoring stability after ending years of unrest.

Partial results in Bangui from Wednesday’s election showed Touadera, a former prime minister under ousted ex-president Francois Bozize, leading with 30 999 votes.

Anicet Georges Dologuele, another former prime minister who had been seen as one of the favourites to lead the country, was on 28 162 votes while Desire Kolingbala, son of former military dictator Andre Kolingba, had 25 057.

The results were based on nearly 130 000 votes, representing 64% of votes cast in Bangui, Julius Ngouade Baba of the National Elections Authority (ANE) told reporters.

Voters had flocked to the polls to elect a president and parliament, three years after the ousting of Bozize, a Christian, by a rebel alliance dominated by minority Muslims.

Despite security concerns after a deadly attack on a Muslim district in Bangui during a mid-December constitutional referendum the election went off without major incident after initial delays caused by logistical glitches.

Nearly two million people in the country of around five million were eligible to choose between around 30 presidential hopefuls and over 1 800 people running for a place in the 105-seat National Assembly.

The head of the UN’s Minusca peacekeeping mission in CAR, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, hailed the election as a success.

The presidential election is expected to go to a run-off on January 31.

One of the poorest countries in the world, with a history of coups and rebellions, CAR was plunged into a bout of fierce intercommunal violence in 2013 after Bozize was ousted by the Seleka rebel alliance.

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Thousands of people were killed and around one in ten fled their homes in attacks by rogue rebels on remote villages and the fierce reprisals by Christian militia against Muslim communities.

UN and French peacekeepers helped restore a degree of calm in January 2014, when a transitional government took over, but large parts of the country which was visited by Pope Francis by November remain lawless.

2016-01-03 20:29

File: AFP

File: AFP

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Addis Ababa – A United States official says his government has shut down its drone operation base in southern Ethiopia.

US Embassy spokesperson in Ethiopia David Kennedy told The Associated Press by email that a decision has been reached that the facilities in Arba Minch, 450km south of Addis Ababa, are no longer necessary.

Ethiopian media reported about the base when it was set up in 2011, but the US has never publicly confirmed the existence of the base. A security expert in Addis Ababa said the base was used to attack Islamic extremists in Somalia.

Ethiopia is a staunch US ally in East Africa and has sent hundreds of troops to Somalia to counter the Islamic extremist rebel group, al-Shabaab.

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