UN hails C.A.R. peace talks plan

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The United Nations has hailed a decision by the Central African Republic’s government and armed groups to hold talks later this month.

The UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix on Thursday lauded the move as “an important step to resolve the country’s crisis.”

“Now there is a path, it is the path of dialogue. There is a date to start this dialogue, it’s 24 January,” said the head of the Department of Peace Operations (DPO), speaking to reporters in the capital Bangui.

“There is an organization…which will convene and organize these discussions in Khartoum, it is the African Union,” he added.

CAR has been dogged by violence since fighting broke out between the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militia and the mainly Muslim Séléka rebels in 2012.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in 2019, 2.9 million people, more than half of whom are children, will need humanitarian and protection assistance; more than 63 per cent of a population of 4.6 million.

In his address on Thursday, Lacroix, who has been in the country alongside the African Union (AU) Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, called on international actors to ensure that 2019 is “the year of peace” for CAR.