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Africa

Ceasefire agreed for Central African Republic

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-07-24

Representatives from the Central African Republic's interim government, civil society and different armed groups meeting Wednesday in Brazzaville agreed on a ceasefire, but there has still been no agreement on thorny issues such as disarmament.

The peace deal gives the Central African Republic (CAR) a chance to remain united and avoids a feared partition along religious lines between the Muslim north and the Christian south.

Around 170 Central African officials had taken part in the talks, including members of transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza's government, lawmakers, envoys from various armed groups, and members of political parties and civil society.

The three-day forum for reconciliation and political dialogue – chaired by Congo's President Denis Sassou Nguesso and backed by a contact group of some 30 countries – was aimed a resolving a crisis that has left thousands of civilians dead and driven more than a million people from their homes.

Half the country is in need of humanitarian assistance, aid agencies say.

Even as talks opened on Monday in Brazzaville, fresh violence broke out in the capital Bangui, with the killing of a former Seleka rebel that sparked fresh attacks from the anti-balaka militias.

The impoverished country slipped into chaos last year after the predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in a March 2013 coup. The Seleka officially disbanded after taking control but some former members launched a campaign of killing, raping and looting, prompting some communities in the Christian-majority nation to form vigilante "anti-balaka" militias, many of which later sought revenge on the country's Muslim minority.

Months of inter-religious violence followed. In an interview with FRANCE 24 in February, the UN warned of “ethno-religious cleansing” in the country.

The Seleka rebels had earlier called for the country's division.

The head of the Seleka delegation, Mohamed Moussa Dhaffane, reportedly demanded this week that a power-sharing deal was a precondition to any peace settlement.

Guy-Herve Gbangolo, a delegate representing the Democratic Front of the Central African People – an armed group operating in western CAR – said the Seleka demand had put "a chill" over the gathering.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2014-07-24

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