The Central African Republic has taken a major step toward peace and stability with a landmark peace agreement signed between the government and 14 armed groups. The country has been wracked by the worst violence since 2013 when then president Francois Bozize was ousted, prompting reprisals from mostly Christian militias.
More than one million people have been displaced, but peace talks started by the United Nations and the African Union in the Sudanese capital in Jan. 28 have kindled hopes of stability.
“We have finalized a peace agreement in Khartoum, enabling the people of Central African Republic to embark on a path of reconciliation, agreement and development,” the African Union’s Commissioner for Peace and Security Smaїl Chergui said in a tweet on Saturday.
While the terms of the peace deal were not immediately released, a government spokesman said the deal heralded a “new era” for the country and armed groups also expressed optimism.
“We were able to agree on what is essential for the Central African: peace. We hope this agreement will bring back social cohesion to the country,” Abakar Sabom, a spokesman for the FPRC, one of the main groups, said.
However, similar deals in 2014, 2015 and 2017 have all failed, raising doubts about the success of the new deal. Complicating the situation in the mineral-rich country is meddling by its former colonial master, France, which decided to push the Muslim Seleka group out and install the anti-Balaka militia comprised of Christians.
Some 11,000 UN peacekeepers are deployed to the country since 2014 within the framework of the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). Despite the intervention of foreign troops, violence continues to wreak havoc in different provinces and armed groups remain in control over most parts of the country.