22 July 2014

Central African Republic: CAR Reconciliation Talks End This Day

Photo: Marcus Bleasdale/VII for Human Rights Watch
Seleka rebels in Bossangoa.

Armed militias are expected to sign a deal ending hostilities before eventual negotiations on a comprehensive agreement.

After three days of frantic negotiations that began on July 21, 2014, international representatives and 170 Central African Republic, CAR, stakeholders are due to end discussions today, July 23, 2014, in the Congolese capital, Brazzaville. The talks are aimed at ending the ongoing sectarian violence in the country and preventing further civil conflicts that have plagued the country for most of its post-independence history.

However, there was confusion yesterday when the Séléka militia failed to turn up for the negotiations. The country's main warring factions, the largely Christian anti-Balaka and mostly Moslem Séléka, are expected to sign a deal by the end of the day, committing to end fighting in order to pave the way for further, but detailed talks back home between all stakeholders, Radio France Internationale, RFI, reported yesterday, July 22, 2014.

Speaking at the opening on Monday, the Economic Community of Central African States, ECCAS-designated mediator, President Denis Sassou N'Guessou of Congo, insisted on the urgent need for fighting to end, especially as the UN mission, MINUSCA, is due to deploy on September 15, 2014.

But a spanner was thrown in the works late in the evening of the opening day when a senior Séléka official, Mohamed-Moussa Dhaffane, insisted that his side would only sign a ceasefire deal if the idea of partitioning the country into Moslem and Christian enclaves was first accepted. He argued that since most Moslems had been chased from the Christian-dominated south of the country, it meant they were no longer welcome in CAR as presently constituted.

Meanwhile, anti-Balaka Political Coordinator, Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona, on Monday restated the militia's readiness to bury the hatchet by reaching a comprehensive agreement with all stakeholders. The Catholic Archbishop of the capital, Bangui, Dieudonné Nzapalanga, on the other hand, called on would-be signatories of the peace deal to be sincere in their intentions for true understanding to return to the country.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, an estimated 103,000 Internally-displaced People, IDPs, remained in Bangui as at July 15, 2014. The UN High Commission for Refugees says 383,000 CAR nationals are refugees in neighbouring countries.

A UN peacekeeping force will begin deploying in two months, with some 2,500 troops joining African and French forces. The first contingents will begin arriving on September 15 to beef up the 6,000 African troops serving in the African Union-led MISCA force.

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