Warring forces in the Central African Republic have agreed to an initial ceasefire agreement, the top mediator at Kenyan-based peace talks has said.
The deal was signed between senior representatives of the anti-balaka rebels and the ex-Seleka movement of ex-president Michel Djotodi on Wednesday.
CAR is struggling to recover from the coup that ousted president Francois Bozize and pushed the poor and unstable country into violence pitting the country’s Christian and Muslim populations against one another.
Kenneth Marende, a former speaker of Kenya’s parliament, said: “The parties have adopted a ceasefire, a cessation of hostilities, and a DDRR (Disarmament, Demobilisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration) agreement.”
“They have agreed an initial agreement, but it does not take effect until after a formal signing,” he said, according to AFP news agency.
Senior representatives of the anti-balaka fighters and the ex-Seleka movement have been meeting in Kenya since early December, in talks parallel to meetings in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the two sides have signed a previous tentative ceasefire.
Second phase pending
The deal was struck on Friday in Kenya. No timeframe has been given for the next stage of talks.
The mainly Muslim Seleka seized power in March 2013 and installed Djotodia – the country’s first Muslim president – in power.
Djotodia stepped down in January 2014 under strong international pressure for his failure to rein in rogue ex-rebels, who relentlessly murdered, raped and stole from civilians.
In response, largely Christian communities formed “anti-balaka” – or anti-machete – vigilante forces who hunted down Muslims in revenge attacks.
Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza took over power, but the government is not part of this peace process.
The deal was struck on Friday in Kenya, with diplomats saying it took place in an upmarket hotel in Nairobi. No timeframe has been given for the next stage of talks.