Washington, DC - Secretary of State John Kerry: "The peaceful conduct and high turnout in the first round of presidential and parliamentary elections in the Central African Republic are clear signs that Central Africans seek a new beginning for their country, and a future based on democratic governance and free from the violence and instability that have plagued the country for far too long.

"We commend all Central Africans who, with support from international forces, ensured the vote on December 30 was peaceful and secure. As the Central African Republic moves towards the second round of elections in the coming weeks, we reiterate our desire to see this spirit of peace, tolerance, and free expression. And we strongly urge all parties and their supporters to peacefully address any disputes with yesterday’s announcement through the Central African legal system.

"These elections are an historic opportunity for Central Africans to build a united, prosperous, and democratic future for their country and establish a government that reflects the country’s rich geographic, ethnic, and religious diversity. In that effort, they will find a steadfast supporter in the United States.

"The United States stands with the Central African Republic at this critical moment and will continue to be a strong friend and ally of the Central African people."