Feb. 3 (UPI) — The Central African Republic government and 14 armed rebel groups reached a peace deal after their first direct dialogue, both sides announced Saturday.
The talks began on Jan. 24 in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. The African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation was facilitated by the African Union and with support from the United Nations.
The government of President Faustin-Archange Touadera, who was elected in 2016, controls about a fifth of the country and relies heavily on the U.N. peacekeeping mission. The rest is controlled by militia groups, according to The Defense Post.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the U.N. undersecretary general for Peace Operations, wrote on Twitter after the agreement: “Let us mobilize to support the implementation of the peace agreement.”
Firmin Ngrebad, the head of the Central African government’s delegation, said the agreement will enable “the people of the Central African Republic to embark on the path of reconciliation, concord and development,” and his government will respond to the concerns “of the brothers who took up arms.”
“I am humbled to announce that with the exemplary cooperation I received from both the Government of the CAR and the 14 armed groups, we have secured a peace agreement today in the interest of the people of CAR.,” Smail Chergui, the AU commissioner for Peace and Security, posted on Twitter.
The armed groups, who had wanted amnesty for their members, also reacted positively.
“Amnesty or no amnesty, what matters to us is peace. The other considerations are secondary. Our concern is this newfound peace and the cohabitation that can be found,” FPRC spokesperson Abacar Sabone said in a report by RJDH, a network of correspondents in Africa.
In the country of 4.6 million people, more than 2.9 million, of which half are children, will need humanitarian and protection assistance, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The landlocked country is bordered by Chad to the north, Sudan to the northeast, South Sudan to the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south, the Republic of the Congo to the southwest and Cameroon to the west.