Armed Groups in Central African Republic Sign Church-Mediated Peace Accord

Armed fighters display weapons in the town of Koui, Central African Republic, on April 27, 2017. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Baz Ratner

The government of the Central African Republic and 13 of the 14 armed groups in the country signed an accord aimed at ending an ethnic and religious conflict that has killed thousands of people.

The deal, which was mediated by the Roman Catholic Sant’Egidio peace group and signed on Monday (June 19) at the group’s headquarters in Rome, calls for an immediate end to hostilities and recognition of the results of last year’s presidential elections.

The country has been plagued by interreligious and intercommunal conflict since 2013, when the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, prompting reprisals from the anti-Balaka militia, many of whose fighters are nominally Christian.

The Sant’Egidio group, which is backed by the Vatican and Italy, negotiated the end of the civil war in Mozambique in 1992 during secret negotiations in Rome and has been trying to broker peace in the Central African Republic for months.

Political crises have regularly rocked the country and tit-for-tat violence is on the rise again despite last year’s presidential election that was aimed at ending the bloodshed.

In two weeks in May, fighting between militia groups killed about 300 people and displaced 100,000, the worst bout of displacements since 2013. Around 2.2 million people, about half the population, need humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations.

A local radio station said on Monday that as recently as this weekend attacks had been carried out in Yalinga in the country’s diamond-rich east. Reuters could not immediately verify the information.

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Source: Religion News Service