ROME JUNE 20, 2017 (CISA) – The Central African Republic (CAR) government and 13 of the 14 armed groups in the country on June 19 signed an accord aimed at ending an ethno-religious conflict that has killed thousands of people.
The deal, which was mediated by the Roman Catholic Sant’ Egidio peace group and signed at their headquarters in Rome, calls for an immediate end to hostilities and recognition of the results of last year’s presidential elections, Reuters reported.
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 CAR.
The five-page accord, which was signed for the government by Foreign Minister Charles Armel Doubane, calls for the free movement of non-governmental organizations.
The 2016 elections which saw former Prime Minister Faustin-Archange Touadéra of the Union for Central African Renewal declared the winner with 63 percent of the vote was widely expected to bring an end the conflict that has plagued the country since 2013.
The conflict began when mainly Muslim Seleka fighters seized power and ousted then-President Francois Bozize, prompting reprisal killings from anti-balaka militias drawn from the Christian minority.
According to the UN the inter-religious and inter-communal conflict has lead to between 3000 and 6000 death and displaced more than 450,000 others, majority of whom have fled to neighboring Cameroon.
The armed militia that did not attend the Rome meetings was one of the smaller ones, the “Retour Reclamation et Rehabilitation” or 3R, Sant’ Egidio negotiators said.
They added that its absence was due to logistical problems and that the other signatories were confident that they would be able to convince the group to join the pact.