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Gunfire, violence mark start of constitution referendum in Central African Republic

FILE- In this Sunday Nov. 29, 2015 file photo, Pope Francis arrives in Bangui, Central African Republic, on the third leg of his trip to Africa. Heavy gunfire, a grenade and threats of violence in Central African Republic on Sunday Dec.13, 2015,  prevented some residents from participating in a constitutional referendum aimed at moving the country out of a transition and toward stability. The vote on a new constitution adopted by the transitional government comes nearly two weeks after a visit by Pope Francis, who called for peace and Muslim-Christian reconciliation. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

FILE- In this Sunday Nov. 29, 2015 file photo, Pope Francis arrives in Bangui, Central African Republic, on the third leg of his trip to Africa. Heavy gunfire, a grenade and threats of violence in Central African Republic on Sunday Dec.13, 2015, prevented some residents from participating in a constitutional referendum aimed at moving the country out of a transition and toward stability. The vote on a new constitution adopted by the transitional government comes nearly two weeks after a visit by Pope Francis, who called for peace and Muslim-Christian reconciliation. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)  (The Associated Press)

Residents in a neighborhood in Central African Republic's capital that has seen continued violence say heavy shooting is preventing them from participating in a constitutional referendum aimed at moving the country out of a transition and toward stability.

The vote comes nearly two weeks after a visit by Pope Francis, who called for peace and Muslim-Christian reconciliation.

Ousmane Abakar said Sunday that extremists are preventing residents from the PK5 neighborhood from voting. Residents were also threatened in other areas of the capital, Bangui.

The vote on the new constitution adopted by the transitional government continued elsewhere. Presidential and legislative elections are meant to be held Dec. 27.

Central African Republic has been highly volatile since early 2013, when Muslim rebels overthrew the president of a decade. Unprecedented sectarian violence followed.