C Africa's president to hold talks with rebels
02 August 2016, 17:14
Bangui – The Central African Republic's president said on Monday
he would soon hold talks with rebel groups as he seeks to restore security
after years of sectarian violence.
"Either this week or next week, we will initiate an exchange
with representatives of the armed groups, in order to clarify some
points," President Faustin-Archange Touadera told local radio station
"There are many weapons in the country, a lot of
banditry," said Touadera, adding that in parts of the impoverished nation
"people cannot go to the fields".
Referring to a campaign dubbed the "DDR" (disarmament,
demobilisation and social reintegration), Touadera said "the process must
begin very soon".
A total of 3 152 former fighters have registered in the DDR programme
in the past year, a spokesperson for the UN peacekeeping mission in Central
Africa said in late July.
The Central African Republic descended into bloodshed between
Christian and Muslim militias following a coup in March 2013 that ousted
long-time leader Francois Bozize.
Thousands died in the violence and more than 418 000 people remain
displaced within the country. More than 480 000 refugees, a large number of
whom are Muslim, have fled to neighbouring countries.
Touadera was elected in a peaceful vote in February, helped by a
12 000-strong UN force. But the country has seen a resurgence of violence since
The UN Security Council on July 26 voted to task peacekeepers with
supporting Touadera's government just as France prepares to end its military
mission in the country, which involved nearly 2 500 French troops at its peak.