Great Lakes African leaders call for C. African Republic ceasefire

Luanda (AFP) –


African leaders from the Great Lakes region called on rebels in the conflict-riven Central African Republic to agree to a ceasefire on Friday.

Election-based violence in the country has displaced more than 200,000 in the past two months, the United Nations said.

Rebels controlling about two-thirds of the nation launched an offensive a week before contested presidential elections that returned Faustin Archange Touadera to power.

"The Heads of State and Government urge all rebel forces to observe a unilateral and immediate cease-fire," Angolan Foreign Minister Tete Antonio said at the end of a meeting of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in Luanda.

"We want a Great Lakes region without armed conflict, without death, or forced displacement of inhabitants," said the statement from African officials.

The mini-summit, which Congolese President Denis Sassou-Nguesso and Rwandan Paul Kagame attended, also said it would support a CAR request to the UN Security Council to lift a heavy weapons embargo.

CAR said the lifting the embargo was needed in order to fight the rebels.

Landlocked CAR is one of the world's poorest nations and has seen a string of coups and wars since it gained independence from France in 1960.