Thursday, March 30, 2023

Central African rebel groups announce ceasefire ahead of Sunday vote | Conflict News

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The Patriots for Change Coalition says a 72-hour unilateral truce will be observed across the Central African Republic.

A rebel coalition that has fought against the government of the Central African Republic (CAR) has said it will observe a unilateral ceasefire ahead of Sunday’s elections.

A statement released by the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CCP), which launched an offensive against the government last Friday, said a “unilateral 72-hour ceasefire … will be observed across the country. by the combat troops of all the patriots “.

The statement also called on the government to “also observe a ceasefire over the same period” and urged President Faustin-Archange Touadera to “suspend the elections, the conditions of which for a good organization have never been met. good ”.

The document, dated Wednesday, was confirmed Thursday to the AFP news agency as authentic by two of the six CCP groups – the 3R and the Popular Front for the Renaissance of Central Africa (FPRC).

The ceasefire announced in the CCP’s statement would expire before voting day, if Wednesday is considered the start date.

Government spokesman Ange-Maxime Kazagui rejected the document, which he said was “unsigned”.

“It’s a unilateral ceasefire, a non-event, and we haven’t seen these people stop what they’re doing,” he told AFP.

On Wednesday, the United Nations and human rights activists warned of pre-election violence, with the former calling it a serious threat to the safety of civilians and their right to vote.

There have been reports of attacks on security forces, election candidates and election officials, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said.

Human Rights Watch said at least five civilians were killed in the clashes and thousands fled.

A new rebel alliance has clashed with security forces in various parts of the country in recent days, including near the capital, Bangui, according to the UN.

According to MINUSCA, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country, the rebels are supported by former President Francois Bozize, who has not been allowed to stand for re-election by the Constitutional Court.

The attacks were reportedly aimed at disrupting elections, in which Touadera is vying for a second presidential term while a new parliament is being elected.

French conviction

French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the actions of armed groups and political figures, including Bozize, during a phone call with Touadera on Wednesday, the Elysee said.

The oil-rich CAR has been rife with conflict for years, with clashes between a predominantly Muslim rebel coalition and Christian militias following Bozize’s overthrow in 2013.

A French military intervention coupled with a UN peace mission temporarily stabilized the country with a peace accord signed in 2019, but there are recurring violent outbreaks.

The recent rise in violence has prompted Russia and Rwanda to deploy military consultants and troops to the country.


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