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CAR sets peace talks for January 24: AU

10 January 2019 11:15 AM
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The African Union said Wednesday that long-awaited peace talks between the government of the Central African Republic and militia groups would take place in Khartoum this month.

"Direct dialogue between the CAR government and armed groups (will) be held on January 24 in Khartoum, Sudan, under the auspices of the AU," AU envoy Moussa Nebie said on Twitter, citing CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera.

The AU has launched an "African initiative" for bringing peace to the CAR, one of the poorest and most troubled countries in the world.

Rival militias have been battling each other since the 2013 overthrow of longtime leader Francois Bozize, a Christian, by majority-Muslim militias in a coalition called the Seleka.

Most of the country's territory remains in the hands of armed groups despite Touadera's election in 2016.

Violence has claimed thousands of lives, and hundreds of thousands of people have been internally displaced or fled abroad.

Seven peace agreements have been signed since the crisis erupted in 2012, but none has endured.

The AU project, initiated last July, has entailed meeting with all armed groups and compiling a list of what they would demand in exchange for disarming.

The process has been widely criticised for slow pace and lack of effectiveness, although it retains the backing of the United Nations and the CAR's main allies.

One of the stumbling blocks is a demand for an amnesty - something that the government, pressed by its partners, has rejected.

A Special Criminal Court has been set up to decide cases of serious rights violations committed in the country since 2003.

Russia last August mounted a parallel mediation process, also in Khartoum, but some armed groups walked away from it.


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