Sant’ Egidio brokers peace deal with C.A.R militants

The negotiations and representatives during the Central African Republic peace talks. Photo: Sant'Egidio

ROME- The Roman Catholic Sant’ Egidio peace group has mediated an ceasefire agreement between government representatives of the Central African Republic and 13 of the 14 political-military groups present in the country, in an effort to bring peace and stability to the war-stricken nation.

 The deal was signed at the Sant’Egidio headquarters in Rome after three days and nights of intense negotiations between the affected parties. The community has been working for years on the pacification of the Central African Republic, together with support from UN peace envoys, the European Union and the Italian government.

 The document calls for an immediate ceasefire between all militia groups, in addition to respecting the results of the 2016 presidential and legislative election. The details of the pact were announced by the President of the Community of Sant Egidio, Marco Impagliazzo, at a press conference held Monday.

 Additionally, the government has vowed to respect the opinions of the political-military groups with the aim of improving the country’s security, economic, humanitarian and social issues.

 The nation has been plagued by inter-religious conflict since 2013 resulting in the deaths of thousands of people, when the principally Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, provoking fighting as the mainly Christian anti-Balaka militia responded.

 The presidential election in 2016 aimed to put an end to the fighting but the bloodshed continued as rebel militia groups contested the outcome of the election.

 However, the recent agreement signed between the 13 political-military groups and representatives from President Touadera’s government is a step forward in securing peace for the nation.

 The only militia group that was not represented at the meeting, was the smaller group “Retour, Reclamation et Rehabilitation”, which could not attend the talks due to logistical reasons, Sant’ Egidio negotiators told Reuters.

 The next step in the peace talks will be in joint committee chosen with the consent of all those involved in the Sant’ Egidio peace negotiations.

 The announcement was greeted warmly by Pope Francis, who visited the Central African Republic in 2015. The Pope encouraged those present in the negotiations to “revive and strengthen the peave talks.”