YAOUNDE, Cameroon

The UN Human Rights Office has warned of “escalating violence” in the Central African Republic (CAR) ahead of general elections in the country.

Presidential and general elections are slated to take place in the war-torn country on Dec. 27.

In a statement late on Wednesday, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said ongoing armed violence presented serious risks to the safety of civilians and their right to vote.

“We are deeply alarmed by reports of escalating violence stoked by political grievances and hate speech, resulting in the forced displacement of civilians, including to neighboring countries,” said the office.

“There have been numerous reports in recent days of attacks against security forces, political candidates and election officials. Reportedly, clashes between armed groups and security forces have taken place across a wide area, including neighbourhoods close to the capital, Bangui,” it added.

Earlier this week, Russia said it has sent 300 military instructors to the CAR upon its request.

Rwanda has also deployed force protection troops to the CAR under an existing bilateral agreement on defense.

Sitting President Faustin-Archange Touadera is contesting for a second term and is considered to be leading the race as the candidacy of his main rival and former President Francois Bozize was rejected by the Constitutional Court.

Several militia groups, some close to Bozize, have reportedly been attacking civilians and election campaign convoys.

Recent rebel attacks on campaign convoys prompted UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to urge all parties to cease hostilities and work towards ensuring conditions for credible, inclusive, and peaceful elections.

Last week, Cameroon said hundreds of civilians from the CAR fled across their shared border to escape violence.

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