UN urges respect for ceasefire called by C.Africa president

Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations. /VCG Photo

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has welcomed the announcement by the Central African Republic’s president of a nationwide ceasefire in a long-running conflict with rebels and urged all parties to respect it.

President Faustin-Archange Touadera issued the unilateral ceasefire declaration on Friday, saying that all but two of the main armed groups had agreed to put down their weapons.

Guterres spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement that “the Secretary-General urges all parties to engage constructively through an inclusive political dialogue with a view to making tangible progress in the peace and reconciliation process.”

A 2013 coup plunged the country into a bloody civil war, and while the violence has decreased over the past three years, armed groups still control large swaths of the country.

Speaking Friday on national radio, President Touadera said the ceasefire, taking immediate effect, underscored his “firm intent to prioritize the path of dialogue” after eight years of war.

Last December the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), an alliance of armed groups which together occupied roughly two-thirds of the country, launched a major offensive aimed at preventing Touadera’s re-election.

With the rebels closing in on the capital Bangui, the president called for help from Russia and Rwanda, which sent paramilitaries and soldiers to rescue the floundering Central African army.

The foreign assistance enabled the country’s armed forces to wrest back control of several rebel-held towns, pushing the fighters back into the bush

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