- African Union chairperson President Cyril Ramaphosa said parties should talk and desist from escalating tensions in the Central African Republic (CAR).
- The Economic Community of Central African States on Saturday called for a large turnout in the elections.
- South Africa earlier donated voting material to help the elections body with its work in the CAR.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged political actors in the Central African Republic (CAR) to "desist from fomenting or escalating tension" and to "commit to dialogue as a means to achieve sustainable peace and stability" as the country goes to the polls on Sunday.
Ramaphosa issued the statement late on Saturday night in his capacity as African Union chairperson.
He said an end to armed conflict was a prerequisite for free, fair and credible elections.
These, in turn, should form the basis of a peace that would benefit the country itself, as well as the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Ramaphosa added.The president said:
Referring to the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, due to come into force in the new year, Ramaphosa added: "At the dawn of a new year that brings with it the advent of free trade across our continent, we must do all we can to ensure that no country or region is left behind by conflict that denies citizens the right to peace, stability and development."
He thanked ECCAS for its "considered and progressive stance" on the CAR ahead of that country's presidential and legislative elections on Sunday.
This follows a meeting by leaders of the 11 central African nations on Saturday, where they called for a massive turnout in the election.
"The heads of state considered that it would be a very bad message that Africa would send to the rest of the world if weapons took precedence over the ballot box," Congolese Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Claude Gakosso told AFP.
Ramaphosa said the electoral process in the CAR and its outcome should entail adherence to the country's constitution, decisions of its Constitutional Court, and provisions of the February 2019 Peace Agreement.
The Constitutional Court on Saturday rejected appeals by the opposition to postpone the vote.
UN peacekeepers and central African national defence and security forces were attacked this week by a rebel coalition, killing three UN peacekeepers in the process.
Russia and Rwanda deployed troops to assist the beleaguered government.
Former president Francois Bozize, who is under UN sanctions and has been barred from running, has been accused by the incumbent president, Faustin Archange Touadera, of plotting a coup.
Bozize denied it.
South Africa earlier this month donated electoral material to the CAR to assist the National Elections Authority in that country after a working visit to Ramaphosa by Touadera in March.
The UN Development Programme donated additional material and provided political support, according to a statement by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation earlier in December.
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