Central Africa: 13 victims of violence in run-up to peace talks
Peace talks concerning the Central African Republic (Khartoum, January 24): Little hope for lasting peace – 13 dead in militia raid – Pastor among the victims (Press release)
According to a report by the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), 13 people got killed in an attack by a Peul nomad militia on a village in the west of the Central African Republic, shortly before the beginning of the peace talks in the country. One of the victims is a pastor. The raid occurred on Sunday. The peace talks in the Sudanese capital Khartoum – involving the Central African government and 14 rebel groups, mediated by the African Union – are scheduled to begin on Thursday.
"In any case, there must not be an amnesty for crimes committed. Without an end to impunity, there will be no lasting peace," demanded Ulrich Delius, the STP's director, in Göttingen on Wednesday. He recalled that, quite recently, in November 2018, around 100 people had been killed in a massacre in Alindao, including 70 civilians. To date, those responsible for the violence have not been held accountable. The massacre has not even been independently investigated.
"We are concerned about the fact that the civil society is not included in the efforts towards peace. Only the conflict parties will be negotiating," Delius criticized. In his opinion, the chances for a nationwide peace are thus rather small. "Seven peace agreements have failed since the civil war broke out in 2013. It would be better to support local efforts, especially by the Catholic Church and Muslim clergymen, to try and bring peace to the country." Currently, armed rebels are in control of around 80 percent of the country.
Further, the human rights advocate criticized that Sudan is not really eligible to take part in peace talks. Being one of the main suppliers of weapons to the rebel movements in the Central African Republic, the country cannot be seen as politically neutral – and it is also close to Russia, which is trying to expand its political and military influence in the Central African Republic. Around 300 Russian military advisers are training the country's army, and Russian mercenaries are supporting the government in its war against the rebel groups. Russia is trying to reduce French influence in the Central Africa, so as to gain access to lucrative diamond deposits.
Headerimage: John Atherton via Flickr