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CAR Government Says Ready for 'National Dialogue'


The government of the Central African Republic says it is ready for all-inclusive national dialogue, after an overall peace accord was signed with leaders of two major rebel groups. VOA's Nico Colombant reports from our regional bureau in Dakar.

CAR Minister of Communications Cyriaque Gonda says a repeatedly delayed national dialogue with representatives of all rebel, political and civil society groups is now well on its way to being realized.

He also says the latest peace accord, which takes up previously signed agreements which were never implemented, should give amnesty to rebels.

Human rights groups have also condemned government security forces for acts of rape, torture and looting in the volatile and poorly-nourished northern regions of CAR, where rebels, armed bandits and soldiers have run roughshod in recent years.

The deal also calls for demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of fighters into civilian life, as well as monitoring of the deal by African and European officials.

The peace deal was signed Saturday in Libreville, in front of CAR President, former coup leader and 2005 election winner, Francois Bozize, and Africa's longest ruling head of state, Gabon's Omar Bongo Ondimba.

Former CAR defense minister and leader of the rebel Popular Army for the Restoration of Democracy, Jean-Jacques Demafouth, called the deal a necessary step but said applying agreements, including amnesty, will be another matter.

Zacharie Adama, the leader of the Union of Democratic Forces Coalition, also signed.

A third rebel leader, Abdoulaye Miskine, was not present, but some of his associates were. They said he had been held up in Libya where he is right now because of logistical problems.

European peacekeepers have recently started deploying in the troubled region of northern CAR, which borders Chad and Sudan. Their goal is to protect camps of hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced people from conflicts in all three countries. The peacekeepers are also in eastern Chad, where fighting erupted again earlier this month, but not in Sudan's warring Darfur region, where a hybrid U.N-African Union force has been slow to expand.


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