Central African Republic Signs ‘Immediate’ Peace Deal With Rebel Groups

Armed rebel groups have agreed to an “immediate” nationwide ceasefire in exchange for political representation. Sectarian violence has plagued the African country since Muslim militias overthrew the government in 2013.

The Central African government and several armed rebel groups on Monday signed a Vatican-backed peace accord in Rome aimed at ending years of violence in the African country.

“We commit to the immediate implementation by political-military groups of a country-wide ceasefire, to be monitored by the international community, as a fundamental step on the way to definitive peace,” read the peace deal.

Since 2013, sectarian violence has plagued the Central African Republic since 2013, when an alliance of Muslim-majority rebel groups known as the Seleka overthrew President Francois Bozize. The ouster triggered a reprisal attacks from “anti-Balaka” militias comprising Christian and animist groups. While efforts to stabilize the country have tempered violence, fighting has flared in recent months. In May, violence between armed groups left roughly 300 people dead and 100,000 others displaced, marking the worst flare-up since the overthrow of the government. The UN has warned of an unfolding humanitarian disaster, with half the population of 4.5 million requiring assistance.

‘Reconstruction efforts’

Under the peace deal, the signatories committed to “restoring the (authority of the) state across the national territory” in exchange for representation in the country’s political processes. “The government undertakes to ensure military groups are represented at all levels,” the agreement read. It also recognized the armed groups “as part of the reconstruction efforts” aimed at stabilizing the country.

Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, head of the UN mission in the Central African Republic MINUSCA, said he welcomes this “important step forward for peace.” “The priority is the immediate cessation of hostilities to end the civilian suffering of the population,” the MINUSCA chief said, according to the mission’s official Twitter account.

Marco Impagliazzo, president of the Catholic peace group Sant’Egidio that negotiated the accord, described it as “an historic agreement, a deal full of hope.” The Vatican-backed group is known for having played a key role in secret meetings in Rome to negotiate the end of Mozambique’s civil war in 1992.

UN peacekeeping missions in Africa

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Since the beginning of South Sudan’s civil war in 2013, nearly 4 million people have been displaced according to the UN. Some of them are being sheltered in UN compounds. But when clashes between government forces and rebels broke out in the capital Juba in July 2016, the blue helmets failed to effectively intervene. Later, the Kenyan UNMISS commander was sacked by former UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

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Western Sahara: Hope for lasting peace

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Liberia: Mission accomplished

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Sudan: Ethiopians as peace promoters?

The UNISFA soldiers are patrolling the disputed oil-rich region of Abyei. Sudan and South Sudan both claim to be rightful owners of this territory located between the two countries. More than 4,000 blue helmets from Ethiopia are deployed. Ethiopia is the world’s second largest peace-keeping contributor. At the same time, the Ethiopian army is accused of human rights violations back home.

Somalia: Future model AU mission?

UN peacekeepers in Somalia are fighting under the leadership of the African Union in a mission known as AMISOM. The soldiers are in the Horn of African country to battle the al-Shabaab Islamists and bring stability to the war-torn nation. Ethiopia, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria have all contributed their troops for AMISOM.

Author: Martina Schwikowski

ls/rc (AFP, Reuters)