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Central African parties resume peace talks in Khartoum

AU Commissioner Smail Chergui talks to the CAR parties in a meeting held in Khartoum on 26 January 2019 (Photo African Union)
January 26, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Central African rival parties continue to discuss ways to reach a lasting peace agreement to end the seven-year conflict in the troubled country where 2.9 million people were experiencing severe food deficits.

The talks include the Central African government, 14 armed groups, representatives of civil society groups. Also, the discussions are brokered by the African Union and the host country Sudan which had already organized a first round of talks in August 2018.

The armed groups which control about 80% of the national territory have various demands from regional autonomy to development projects. Also, some rebel leaders have developed a flourishing business, far more lucrative than peace, according to UN reports.

The opening session took place in Khartoum on 24 January with the participation of African Union and United officials as well as foreign diplomats based in Khartoum.

The talks which are taking place within the framework of the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic

In his capacity as lead facilitator, Chergui encourages all parties to engage positively towards a peace agreement in the Central African Republic.

African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui and the head of UN peacekeeping Department Operation Jean Pierre Lacroix Saturday met the parties to the conflict in the Central African Republic to engage positively towards a peace agreement.

The current round of discussions is scheduled to end on 2 February. Also, a final peace agreement should be signed in the CAR capital Bangui.

In statements to the Senate on 23 January, Jean Yves Le Drien, the French foreign minister expressed hope that the Khartoum peace talks allow "to reach a peace agreement by March".

The regional and international involvement aims to put pressure on the parties to swiftly conclude an agreement but also to seriously commit themselves to its implementation.

UN officials estimate that 63% of the population in the Central African Republic (nearly three million) are in need of need humanitarian assistance and protection.

UN reports point to a rise in attacks against civilians and aid workers, adding that there is an increase of 16 per cent for humanitarian assistance in 2018.

(ST)