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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid