Central Africa peace deal fragile, six months on

BANGUI, Central African Republic (AFP) – The peace deal between the Central African Republic (CAR) government and rebel groups remains fragile, nearly six months after it was signed, UN experts said in a new report released on Saturday.

Members of the armed groups who signed the deal have violated international humanitarian law nearly every day since it was signed, said the experts.

There was little or no sign the rebel fighters had changed their ways – or that their leaders had punished anyone violating the peace deal, the report said.

MINUSCA, the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, had recorded between 10 and 70 violations of the peace deal, every week, they added.

The deal, between the government and 14 armed groups, was signed on February 6 in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

The armed groups, in particular the mainly Muslim rebel alliance called the Seleka, had maintained their positions and surrendered none of their territory since, the report added.

They had even tightened their grip on their zones of control and had bought arms.

The report was sceptical, too, of the mixed units of government forces and rebel fighters due to be deployed under the terms of the deal.

The leaders of the former Seleka group saw this deployment as a way of making official the positioning of their fighters along the key transport routes and other key areas, as they insisted on leading the units, the report noted.

Nevertheless, none of the previous five deals signed since the country’s crisis started at the end of 2012 had generated as much commitment from national and international participants, they said.

One of the world’s poorest and most unstable nations, CAR has suffered several violent crises since 2003 when former president Francois Bozize seized power in a coup.