[JURIST] Citizens of the Central African Republic (CAR) [BBC backgrounder] voted this week on a constitutional referendum intended to bring stability to the nation. According to partial results released Thursday, amendments to the constitution to create a senate, allow for freedom of religion and disincentivize political disruptiveness passed with ease, with around 90 percent of votes in favor. Votes have trickled in slowly in some areas where violence and unrest have dissuaded voters, particularly in the predominantly Muslim PK5 neighborhood. Citizens of PK5 have asked the UN for assistance, and on Wednesday, the EU announced [press release] plans to send an Election Expert Mission to CAR to help.
The CAR has experienced significant turmoil since President Francois Bozize [Britannica backgrounder] was ousted by the Seleka rebels in 2013. In January the UN published a report [JURIST report] stating that the various acts of violence committed by both government and rebel forces in the CAR constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity but not genocide. Soon thereafter, the UN called for [JURIST report] the establishment of a war crimes tribunal in the CAR to try perpetrators of violence. The National Transition Council, the acting government of the CAR, created such a tribunal [JURIST report] in April. The National Transition Council then adopted the new constitution [JURIST report] in September, which still had to pass this month’s referendum to become law.