Ballots counted after pivotal C. African Republic election

Ballots counted after pivotal C. African Republic election

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BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Votes were being counted Thursday after Central African Republic's national elections drew massive crowds of voters seeking peace after years of violence. The United Nations said "armed elements" attacked peacekeepers as they loaded election materials into a truck in the capital, with three police injured.

One presidential candidate said the credibility of the election could be undermined by a number of irregularities.

"The ballots were sent in insufficient numbers to the polling stations of several electoral districts in the country and suspected organized fraud will weigh down the reliability of the results," said Desire Nzanga Bilal Kolingba.

Kolingba, who is the son of a former president, said ballot boxes were found at homes of candidates, and warned against the theft of what he said was his "certain victory."

National Electoral Authority spokesman Julius Rufin Ngoadebaba warned against announcements like these from candidates. He said the commission noted some logistical issues, including equipment not arriving on time, and promised solutions would be found. A monitoring team is making field checks as votes are counted, he said.

The African Union observation mission head said that no immediate major issues were seen.

Partial results will be announced as available. Once final results are in, it will be up to the constitution court to validate them, he said.

Voters are choosing a government to replace the transitional leaders put in place in 2014. More than 1.8 million people were registered to vote at more than 500 polling stations nationwide that were secured by U.N. peacekeepers and national security forces.

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 a horrific backlash by the Christian anti-Balaka militia against Muslim civilians followed. Thousands were killed and sectarian violence has continued, displacing nearly 1 million people.

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