Voting is under way in Central African Republic's presidential election aimed at ending years of deadly violence. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION Peacekeepers patrolled the streets of Central African Republic as voting began on Wednesday in a presidential election aimed at restoring democratic rule after years of inter-religious violence in which thousands have died. Lines formed at polling stations in the capital Bangui and in the mainly Muslim PK-5 neighbourhood. U.N. peacekeepers staged patrols and positioned armoured personnel carriers at voting stations, witnesses said. Mainly Muslim rebels from a group called the Seleka seized power in the majority Christian nation in early 2013, provoking reprisals from the Christian anti-balaka militias that triggered a cycle of religious and inter-communal killings. Thirty candidates are competing for the presidency but in the absence of opinion polls or an incumbent, it is hard to predict a winner. Leading candidates include former prime ministers Anicet-Georges Dologuele and Martin Ziguele. Other candidates include former Foreign Minister Karim Meckassoua, and Bilal Desire Nzanga-Kolingba, the son of a former president. The conflict has forced nearly one-fifth of the country's five million people from their homes and left much of the north and east controlled by mainly Muslim groups that do not answer to the government. The turmoil, and violence in Bangui in September, have repeatedly forced authorities to delay the polls. Some have also cast doubt on whether the election can be organised successfully.