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Wed, 11 Dec 2019 14:53 GMT

Central African Republic's Warring Parties to Hold Peace Talks in Moscow


Michael Melkamu

Tue, 12 Feb 2019 12:54 GMT

The African Union Commission is set to organize peace talks in Moscow between the government of the Central African Republic (CAR) and 14 armed groups, an AU official has said.

Briefing journalists on Monday February 11th, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ismael Chergui said the peace talks would follow signing of a political agreement for peace and reconciliation in Bangui, the capital of CAR. This in turn comes after direct dialogue between the various parties in Khartoum on February 6th, 2019.  

"I think a new era is coming to CAR, where people drink the same water as animals although the mineral rich nation has 460 out of the top 600 mineral reserves found all over the world," Chergui said. 

The recent agreement takes into account the concerns of the parties, respect for the territorial integrity and unity of the CAR, inclusive and representative governance that brings on board all the components of the central African nation, bearing in mind the need for mutual tolerance and acceptance of their cultural and religious diversity.  

The agreement, which was mediated by the African Union, is the eighth since fighting began, but the first to emerge from direct dialogue that incorporated representatives of armed groups and the government. 

The deal seeks to end five years of religious and communal fighting which has killed thousands, displaced hundreds of thousands, and seen two militia leaders tried at the International Criminal Court.  

The conflict began in 2013 when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in Bangui, prompting a response by mostly Christian anti-Balaka militias.  

After a period of relative peace, violence intensified and spread last year. Armed groups currently control around 80% of the Central African Republic and compete over land rich in gold, diamonds, and uranium. 

According to the commissioner, all antagonistic groups in the CAR will once again come to the table in Moscow on the sidelines of the Conference on African Affairs, although the exact date when the peace talks will be held has not been mentioned. 

In a recent statement, the African Union Commission noted the need for rapid operationalization of the AU Cairo Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development Centre, which will contribute economic and social recovery programmes to the CAR. The AU also underlined the urgent need to activate the financial contributions pledged during the Brussels Conference, in November 2016.