Central African Republic’s (CAR) new president, Faustin-Archange Touadera, has pledged to “preserve the peace” as he took the oath of office on Wednesday.
The swearing-in ushers in the country’s first elected leader since Muslim rebels overthrew Francois Bozize’s government more than three years ago.
“I pledge to wholly respect the constitution … and preserve the peace,” he said, promising to “carry out my duties without any ethnic bias.”
I pledge to wholly respect the constitution ... and preserve the peace.
Touadera, 58, a former mathematics teacher, was the surprise winner of February’s runoff polls, the first to be held since Muslim and Christian rebels engaged in inter-communal violence which killed thousands of people since 2013.
The inauguration of the new president comes as the CAR’s former colonial ruler, France, said its troops would leave the country by the end of the year.
The French forces helped stabilize the country when the sectarian violence erupted until a UN peacekeeping force was in place.
Touadera was sworn-in at a ceremony at the main stadium in the country’s capital, Bangui and was attended by Equatorial Guinea’s president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema and the Republic of Congo’s re-elected leader, Denis Sassou Nguesso.
The ceremony marks the last stage of the country’s political transition which began after the toppling of former president, Francois Bozize in 2013 by the predominantly Muslim seleka rebel alliance.
The Central African Republic has experienced relative peace since the landmark visit of Pope Francis last November.
Muslims in the country have fled to the northern parts of the country with some crossing the borders into Chad and Cameroon.
Many fear that the rebels in the north may try to secede but Touadera has assured that the country would stay together no matter what.