UN chief urges countries to back C.Africa peace deal

President Faustin Archange Touadera initials the peace agreement his government reached in Khartoum with 14 armed groups (AFP Photo)
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United Nations (United States) – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called on countries to back a peace deal signed between the government of the Central African Republic and armed groups that control most the country’s territory.

The United Nations supported the talks led by the African Union that yielded the agreement reached in Sudan to end years of fighting in the strife-scarred country.

This pact between the government and 14 armed militias is the eighth since 2012 in the mineral-rich country that is one of the world’s poorest and has suffered years of conflict. All the previous pacts broke down.

Congratulating the signatories, Guterres called “on neighboring countries, regional organizations and all international partners to support the courageous steps that Central Africans have made to bring lasting peace and stability” to their country, said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

The United Nations will assist the country “at this critical stage” and “encourages all stakeholders to live up to their commitments in the implementation period,” he added.

The Central African Republic (CAR) has been struggling to recover from the bloodletting that erupted when President Francois Bozize, a Christian, was overthrown in 2013 by mainly Muslim Seleka rebels.

Former colonial ruler France intervened militarily under a UN mandate, pushing the Seleka from power, and a 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSCA, was established to help restore stability.

The armed groups control about 80 percent of the CAR.

At a signing ceremony in Bangui on Wednesday, African Union Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat said implementation of the deal would be challenging and warned that “this must not be the umpteenth agreement” that fails to bring peace to CAR.

Guterres also announced the appointment of Mankeur Ndiaye of Senegal to be his new envoy to CAR, replacing Parfait Onanga-Anyanga who held the post since August 2015.

The conflict has left thousands dead and forced a quarter of the population of 4.5 million from their homes. The rural exodus, the UN warned last year, could drive the country into famine.

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