21 January 2013

Central Africa: What car's peace deal provides

Central African Republic negotiators signed a peace agreement in Gabon on January 11, 2013.

After three days of negotiations in the Gabonese capital, Libreville, the government of the Central African Republic, CAR, Sèléka rebels, the unarmed opposition and civil society signed a series of deals on January 11, 2013 to end the latest wave of rebellion in the country.

Mediated by the Economic Community of Central African States, ECCAS, the parties signed the declaration of principle, ceasefire agreement and the political agreement on the resolution of the crisis caused recently by the offensive of Sèléka rebels. The rebels, who accused President François Bozizé of reneging on a 2008 peace deal and cracking down on dissidents, launched an armed campaign on December 10, 2012, basically overrunning half the country in less than a month.

The Libreville Agreements provide for the following:

General Provisions

The three accords provide for the dissolution of the National Assembly, holding of legislative elections within a year and the coming into effect of an immediate ceasefire. The agreements are aimed at defining modalities for power-sharing and ensuring a peaceful political transition.

President François Bozizé

He remains Head of State until 2016 - the end of his second term and has to replace Prime Minister Faustin Archange Touadera with someone from the opposition. The Head of State cannot dismiss the new Premier, Nicolas Tiangaye.

New Prime Minister

He will head an inclusive government of national unity for a period of 12 months that is renewable. His task includes restoring peace and security, organising new legislative elections and reorganising the security forces and the Ministry of Territorial Administration. He is expected to expand government's authority and control over the country. He is also to reform the judiciary and demobilise rebel forces with assistance from the international community. Finally, he is tasked with reforming the country's economic and social sectors.

Sèléka Rebels, The Opposition

The Defence Ministry portfolio will go to the rebels as well as the position of the Prime Minister - with the candidate proposed jointly by the civilian opposition, civil society and Sèléka rebels.

Signatories To The Accords

Each of the signatories to the three accords is expected to be given cabinet positions in the all-inclusive government of national unity.

International Community

The role of the international community in ensuring the success of the peace deal lies in assisting in reforming the judiciary and demobilisation of rebel forces.

In compliance with the accords, President Bozizé on Saturday, January 12, 2013, dismissed Premier Faustin Archange Touadera, following up on January 17, 2013 with the appointment of Nicolas Tiangaye as new Premier as proposed by the opposition. A lawyer by training, Tiangaye, who founded the Central African Human Rights League, joined politics after Bozizé came to power in a 2003 coup. He headed the National Transition Council and was one of the main authors of the current constitution adopted in 2004 that restricts the President from serving more than two consecutive terms.

The Sèléka insurgency is the latest in a series of uprisings that have rocked the Central African Republic since independence from France in 1960. A country of five million people, CAR is rich in timber, gold, diamond and uranium, but is ranked among the poorest in the world as a result of years of instability.

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