WASHINGTON-Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement on elections in the Central African Republic:

"I congratulate the people of the Central African Republic for overcoming serious roadblocks and moving forward with the second round of presidential elections in a relatively free, fair, and credible manner. The conduct of the elections reflected a strong desire for peace both on the part of the country's citizens and presidential candidates Faustin Touadéra and Anicet Dologuélé.

"I also congratulate President-elect Faustin Touadéra for his victory and I hope he can lead the way toward reconciliation of the Muslim-Christian divide unleashed by the last three years of conflict. I commend Anicet Dologuélé for conceding with grace and humility, and for contributing to the spirit of peace and reconciliation. Finally, I applaud interim President Catherine Samba-Panza for her service to the country, helping to lead the Central African Republic through this challenging transition.

"Elections are just the first step toward restoring stability to the country after more than three years of conflict, and I urge the United States and international partners to stay focused on helping the people of the Central African Republic stabilize and rebuild their country."