29 June 2014

Central Africa: CAR Armed Rivals Welcome Transition Directives

Photo: Till Muellenmeister/IRIN
Anti Balaka fighters at Bangui´s estate PK9, waiting to attack Muslim IDP convoys passing along the road.

Militia leaders say they will respect last weekend's recommendations by sub-regional Heads of State.

Leaders of the anti-Balaka and Séléka militias in the Central African Republic, CAR, have generally welcomed calls by Central African Heads of State over the weekend in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, on moving the country's transition forward.

Heads of State of the Economic Community of Central African States, ECCAS, on Friday, June 27, 2014, held a mini-summit on the sidelines of the 23rd African Union summit. In response, CAR's armed rivals said they supported calls for a cabinet reshuffle to include the country's Moslem minority that has been alienated by the ongoing sectarian conflict and the imminent holding of talks in Brazzaville, Congo between the militias.

Earlier on June 26, 2014, Séléka and anti-Balaka set up a joint committee of six members each to prepare for local peace talks under the auspices of conflict-resolution group, PARETO. The committee represents a second step after the two sides held an initial meeting this month, according to Béni Kouyaté, Deputy Coordinator of PARETO. "This initiative will lead us towards reconciliation. That's what we all want in this country," said senior Séléka official, Eric Massi. "We agreed on all the mediation principles that we want to lead us to peace. For our part, there's no problem, but it's up to the leaders of the Séléka to convince their leaders in Bambari to have faith in this process," agency reports cited Sebastien Wenezoui, Assistant Coordinator of anti-Balaka, as saying.

In a related development, the anti-Balaka on June 27, 2014, brought together its field commanders in a bid to reunite the group that split last month. Radio France Internationale, RFI, said the factions hitherto led by Sébastien Wenezoui and Patrice Edouard Ngaissona, pledged to henceforth speak with one voice as the militia considers transforming itself into a political party. At the end of the gathering, anti-Balaka leaders restated their determination to reconcile with the largely Moslem Séléka militia.

« Our country is one and secular. Moslems and Christians have for long lived together in peace. It is therefore in our interest to help restore peace," RFI quoted Emotion Brice Namsio, the spokesperson of the new Séléka executive as saying. Meanwhile, Prime Minister André Nzapayéké has welcomed the internal conciliation moves within the anti-Balaka, saying it was good omen for national reconciliation.

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