Central African Republic: Peace Accord - Efforts Continue to Save Deal

Representatives of 14 armed groups and the government are meeting in Ethiopia.

The Central African Republic, CAR government and 14 armed groups, which control 80 per cent of the territory on February 5, 2019 in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, reached a peace and reconciliation deal to end the conflict in the country. It was the eighth such agreement since 2013 when the current crisis broke out. In order to better implement the accord, negotiations - under the mediation of the African Union - opened in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on March 18, 2019.

The main objective is to save the deal from total collapse after some of the signatories withdrew, complaining that the newly formed government was not so inclusive. On the second day of the discussions on March 19, 2019, 11 of the 14 armed groups issued a statement demanding the replacement of new Prime Minister Firmin Ngrébada, agency reports said.

Their statement also called for the formation of a "government of national unity" and for "direct talks" with President Faustin-Archange Touadera; adding that the PM was no longer a credible interlocutor. Meanwhile, the African Union on March 19, 2019 announced that it had completed one-on-one talks with representatives of all 14 armed groups invited to Addis Ababa. AU Peace Commissioner, Smail Chergui, said he again met PM Firmin Ngrébada to discuss how to hasten up the implementation of the agreement.

"We didn't come to the talks with any pre conditions. I believe it is in the interest of everyone to make necessary compromises for us to get the government working," said CAR Government Spokesman, Ange Maxime Kazagui. "Inclusiveness does not only involve the government. There are State institutions at local, national and other levels. I therefore believe that we will find a solution to the current hitches," Kazagui noted. None of the previous seven peace agreements worked, in spite of the presence of the 11,000-strong United Nations MINUSCA peacekeepers, deployed since 2014.

CAR has been struggling to recover from bloodletting that erupted when former President François Bozizé was overthrown in 2013 by Séléka rebels. Despite elections in 2016 that brought Faustin-Archange Touadera to power, the country remains embroiled in violence. The conflict has left thousands dead and forced a quarter of the population of 4.5 million out of their homes.

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