Candidate Faustin Archange Touadera is in the lead to become president in the initial results of the Central African Republic presidential elections.
With all votes from the capital counted, the National Election Authority said Faustin Archange Touadera, prime minister from 2008 to 2013, had 30, 999 votes followed by another former prime minister, Anicet Georges Dologuele, with 28, 162.
Thirty candidates are competing in the presidential election, which is seen as key for a transition to democracy. All the seats in the National Assembly are also being contested.
Bilal Nzanga-Kolingba, son of a former president, was third with 25, 055 votes while Jean Serge Bokassa, son of former dictator Jean-Bedel Bokassa had 10, 672.
A third former prime minister Martin Ziguele was fifth with 9, 946 votes, the electoral authority’s spokesperson Julius Ngouade Baba told a news conference, adding that the national turnout was 72.2%.
Interim president, Catherine Samba-Panza, who has held office since May 2014, is barred from standing. It was unclear whether Bangui’s results represented national sentiment. A second round will be held on January 31 if needed.
Voting took place December 30. Ballots from Central Africans voting in Morocco and neighboring Congo-Brazzaville arrived at the electoral commission on Saturday. Results from the provinces and the diaspora are pending.
Elections in the country had been postponed three times because of logistical difficulties.
The Central African Republic has been rocked by violence since March 2013 when a largely Muslim alliance of rebel groups overthrew President Francois Bozize.
The rebel leader left power in 2014 and sectarian violence between the anti-balaka Christian militia and Muslim Seleka rebels continued killing thousands and displacing nearly 1 million people.
The elections in CAR are seen as vital to restoring stability after years of instability.