BANGUI (Reuters) - Central African Republic is falling behind with preparations for Oct. 18 elections and will probably have to delay them, the head of the transitional government said on Tuesday.
The legislative and presidential elections are meant to help the country move on from more than two years of inter-ethnic violence, but Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet, the head of the National Transitional Council (CNT), said the vote was nowhere near ready.
“The registration of voters is floundering in the interior of the country and we don’t yet have a voter list,” Nguendet told Reuters. “Without a voter list, by what miracle can we organise an election?”
The former French colony descended into chaos in March 2013 when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, triggering reprisals by “anti-balaka” Christian militias who drove tens of thousands of Muslims from the south in a de facto partition.
Violence eased after a U.N.-brokered peace deal in May, but clashes resumed again in August.
Elections were originally due in February but have already been postponed several times. The United Nations, which has a 12,000-strong peacekeeping mission in the country working alongside French soldiers, has warned that significant delays could worsen security.
One reason for delays is that an electoral census due to be completed by July 27 is still ongoing in some regions.
Before the elections can be held, the public also has to vote on a new constitution designed to form the base of the next government. The referendum is scheduled for Oct. 5.
“There might be some slippage,” said Walidou Bachir, minister in charge of territorial administration.
“The dates are not set in stone and we have said that the whole procedure from the referendum to the elections needs to be completed by Dec. 30, 2015.”
Reporting by Anthony Fouchard; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Robin Pomeroy