UN chief calls for dialogue in Central African Republic


 

UN  Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Militia groups in Central African Republic (CAR) should lay down their arms and join the political process,UN  Secretary General Antonio Guterres said late Thursday.

“Central African religious communities — Christians, Muslims and others — have always lived together,” he told a news conference in the capital Bangui, according to a UN statement.

“It is imperative that political leaders, leaders of armed groups and community religious leaders call for genuine reconciliation, mutual respect and the understanding that everyone must live together to build the new Central African Republic.

“We cannot leave the Central Africans abandoned. Everyone needs to be mobilized to help this country build a future that Central Africans deserve.”

The country has been wracked by violence since Muslim Seleka rebels ousted then President Francois Bozize, a Christian, in 2013.

Fierce fighting has continued between the Seleka and Christian anti-Balaka rebels, forcing nearly half the country’s population to depend on humanitarian assistance, according to the UN.

Since August, more than 500 former combatants have joined a disarmament program that seeks to reintegrate fighters into civilian and military life.

CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera, who was elected in March last year, said dialogue with armed groups was at the center of resolving the country’s problems.

Earlier, he had joined Guterres, who is on a four-day official visit, for a working meeting on the UN-supported disarmament, demobilization and reintegration scheme.

“There must be resources available for this country to have the solidarity it deserves to ensure its citizens a dignified life and to ensure that government projects turn into a reality of peace, stability and prosperity,” Guterres said.

Earlier, the UN condemned ongoing violence following an Oct. 13 attack on a mosque in the southeastern town of Kembe that left 26 people dead.


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