News / Africa

CAR Leader Appeals for Cease-fire as Talks Open in Congo

Congo's President Denis Sassou Nguesso (R) and Central African Republic President Catherine Samba Panza (L) attend talks gathering key players in the Central African conflict, July 21, 2014, in Brazzaville, to end more than a year of sectarian bloodshed.
Congo's President Denis Sassou Nguesso (R) and Central African Republic President Catherine Samba Panza (L) attend talks gathering key players in the Central African conflict, July 21, 2014, in Brazzaville, to end more than a year of sectarian bloodshed.
Reuters

Central African Republic's interim president appealed on Monday to Muslim Seleka rebels and 'anti-balaka' Christian militia to agree on a cease-fire at the start of talks in the neighboring Congo Republic.

The three-day forum in Brazzaville, mediated by Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso, aims to reach terms for a halt to hostilities and disarmament but will not address negotiations for a longer-term peace deal in the former French colony.

“This forum which opens today is a major step in the political dialogue and reconciliation between the sons and daughters of Central African Republic,” Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza said at the opening of the talks.

Samba-Panza, whose government will steer the country to elections next year, said the forum would pave the way towards further difficult steps in securing peace, such as inter-community talks at a grassroots level.

“It is time to lay down arms,” Samba-Panza said.

She appealed to all parties to embark on the path of a peaceful and political solution.

The talks bring together some 169 delegates from the transitional government, civil society and armed groups.

Thousands have been killed and more than a million forced from their homes by sectarian violence which erupted after mostly Muslim Seleka fighters seized power in the majority Christian country in March 2013.

Months of looting and killings by Seleka fighters - many of them mercenaries from neighboring Chad and Sudan - prompted a backlash by the 'anti-balaka' militia that has driven the rebels and tens of thousands of Muslims northwards, effectively dividing the country along religious lines.

Clashes between the two sides and reprisals against both Christians and Muslims have continued despite the presence of 2,000 French peacekeepers and 6,000 African troops. The United Nations will deploy a peacekeeping mission in September.

“Ready to Disarm”

Samba-Panza said the results of the Brazzaville forum will depend on actions on the ground at all levels to encourage reconciliation.

The coordinator for the anti-balaka militia, Patrice Edouard NgaJissona, said he was hopeful of progress.

“I am ready to lay down my weapon, so too other anti-balaka members,” NgaJissona said.

“It has already started with some of our ex-Seleka brothers. But certain conditions especially about foreign mercenaries need to be addressed in Brazzaville before a definitive return to peace in Central African Republic,” he said.

Samba-Panza took office after Seleka leader Michel Djotodia was forced to resign as president in January under international pressure.

Djotodia, who was reappointed as Seleka leader this month, is the target of U.S. sanctions and will not personally attend the talks.

Human Rights Watch appealed on Sunday for participants in the forum to reject any calls for amnesty for those responsible for serious human rights abuses.

“Mediators need to make clear that lasting peace cannot be achieved without justice and that no one is above the law,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

In a sign of the volatility of the situation, several Seleka fighters awaiting disarmament took to the streets of central Bangui on Monday, firing into the air, after one of their number was stabbed by a militia member. Calm returned after French and African peacekeepers deployed to the area.  

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs