The Central African Republic (CAR) is due to go the polls on Sunday for presidential and parliamentary elections.
On Saturday, the constitutional court denied opposition requests to delay the elections, ensuring they will go ahead as planned, despite an escalating threat of violence.
Earlier, unidentified “armed combatants” killed three United Nations peacekeepers, hours after a rebel coalition fighting the government called off a unilateral truce and reiterated calls for the suspension of the polls.
The UN’s human rights office, OHCHR, warned days ago that armed violence posed a serious threat to the security of civilians and their right to vote.
President Faustin-Archange Touadera is seeking a second term governing the country of five million on Sunday.
Earlier this month, the court rejected former President Francois Bozize’s presidential candidacy, saying he did not satisfy the “good morality” requirement because of an arrest warrant and UN sanctions against him for allegedly ordering assassinations, torture and other crimes when he was president.
CAR, which is rich in diamonds, timber and gold, has experienced five coups and numerous rebellions since independence from France in 1960. It has been gripped by insecurity since Bozize was overthrown in 2013.
President Touadera’s international security partners, including Russia, France and Rwanda have responded to the violence by sending troops and equipment.
Alexander Cyril Ngozo is an election observer in Bangui.
“We are going through a crisis but the government wants these elections to take place, regardless of the pressure enforced by the armed groups. Since the moment that ex-president Francois Bozize registered his candidacy without complying with all the requirements, I have been doubtful, thinking that problems could happen.
“I’m especially worried for my fellow citizens in the countryside. They are people who don’t do politics. What is happening is not in their interest and they are the ones finding themselves in this bad situation once again.”