Central Africa Republic peace talks stumble over militia amnesty
Many commanders face UN sanctions or human rights accusations
Bangui — The Central African Republic’s (CAR’s) government and armed militias who control most of the country held more peace talks on Wednesday but an amnesty proposal is impeding progress, sources close to the negotiations said.
The country fell into crisis in 2012 after violence erupted from a mainly Muslim rebel insurgency known as the Seleka that sparked the creation of rival Christian militias known as the anti-Balaka.
The new talks, which started last week with senior CAR officials and rebel chiefs in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, came after a lasting agreement could not be reached in seven previous rounds.
Talks have focused since Monday on the demands of the 14 armed groups, notably the formation of a unity government and the amnesty proposal for warlords, national television TVCA reported.
CAR authorities have always rejected amnesty for militia commanders, many of whom face UN sanctions or human rights accusations.
“After a detailed review of a draft peace proposal we realise that the fundamental and key points of our demands have not been taken into account,” one anti-Balaka militia representative said.
A representative of the FPRC, the country’s largest armed group, said that as the talks currently stand, “we will be rejecting the deal and everyone will be going home”. Sudanese authorities say the talks in Khartoum could last up to three weeks.
The crisis deepened in March 2013, after a power-sharing deal with the government collapsed, and the Seleka entered the capital Bangui to force president Francois Bozize from power.
Former colonial ruler France intervened militarily under a UN mandate, pushing the Seleka from power, and President Faustin-Archange Touadera was elected in February 2016. But his government controls only a fraction of the state, despite the support of more than 13,000 troops and police in the UN’s Minusca mission.
Most of the country is in the hands of militias, who often portray themselves as defenders of their own religious group but fight turf wars over cattle or mineral wealth, including gold, uranium and diamonds. Thousands of people have been killed and a quarter of the population of 4.5-million have fled their homes because of the violence.