At least two people have been killed and 20 others injured during heavy clashes during a constitutional referendum in the Central African Republic (CAR).
Clashes between the supporters and opponents of the referendum erupted on Sunday in the PK5 Muslim district of the CAR’s capital, Bangui, causing the casualties.
The violence occurred as people in a school were casting their ballots in the referendum on a new constitution that would limit the presidential tenure to two terms and curb the power of armed militias blamed for the years-long chaos and terror in the CAR.
The proposed constitution, if adopted, would usher in the sixth republic since independence from France in 1960.
The CAR has been witnessing violence since a coup ousted President Francois Bozize in 2013. The coup pushed the country into an ethnic conflict between the Christian and Muslim populations. The largely Christian “anti-balaka” militias were formed to avenge what they called atrocities by the members of the Seleka group, who had been behind the coup, resulting in waves of killing, rape, and pillaging ever since.
On November 30, Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, in a visit to the country, also called for reconciliation between Muslims and Christians.
According to the latest UN estimates, the conflict in the CAR has internally displaced 399,000 people and forced more than 460,000 to flee to neighboring countries.