BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) -- The newly elected president of Central African Republic vowed on Sunday to unite the country while thanking his opponent for conceding defeat in a runoff vote.
Faustin Archange Touadera, a former prime minister, was declared the winner of the Feb. 14 runoff on Saturday night, having garnered nearly 63 percent of the vote. His rival, Anicet Georges Dologuele, promptly acknowledged his defeat though he expressed concern about irregularities.
Many hope the vote will strengthen the country's tentative peace after more than two years of sectarian fighting left untold thousands dead and forced nearly 500,000 people to flee to neighboring countries. But Touadera inherits the enormous task of trying to restore order in a country where heavily armed rebel groups still control large swaths of territory.
In his first remarks since the provisional results were announced, Touadera said Sunday he hoped to make Central African Republic "united, cohesive and prosperous" while creating jobs and reducing poverty.
"Central Africans from all regions and religions, we are going to transform our country into a vast worksite offering job opportunities to the youth, creating wealth that can be evenly distributed," Touadera said.
The constitutional court has a week to validate the results, though Dologuele said he would not challenge them.
"Anicet Georges Dologuele and I have shown that we both love this country deeply and we truly care about its future," Touadera said.
The United Nations mission in Central African Republic also praised Dologuele, saying in a statement late Saturday that his remarks "illustrate his statesmanlike stature."