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

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

New Yellow Fever Research May Lead to Improved Treatment

Researchers identify features of disease that may lead to more effective treatment More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid