Bangui, Central African Republic, Feb 6, 2019 / 05:53 pm (CNA).- The Central African Republic government has signed a peace deal with more than a dozen armed groups this week.
The deal was announced by the African Union Saturday, according to Reuters, but details were not publicly released.
Several previous peace deals in the last five years have failed.
The latest deal, between government forces and 14 rebel groups, comes after two weeks of discussions. Both sides are hopeful that the deal will last, Reuters reported.
The Central African Republic has suffered violence since December 2012, when several bands of mainly Muslim rebel groups formed an alliance, taking the name Seleka, and seized power.
In reaction to the Seleka’s attacks, some Central Africans formed self-defense groups called anti-balaka. Some of these groups, mainly composed of Christians, began attacking Muslims out of revenge, and the conflict took on a sectarian character.
Many Catholic churches in the country have offered refuge to Muslims and Christians alike fleeing violence, included churches in the Diocese of Bangassou, some 140 miles to the east of Alindao, where several Catholic institutions took in displaced Muslims facing violence at the hand of anti-balaka.
The country held a general election in 2015-16 which installed a new government, but militant groups continued to terrorize local populations. Thousands of people have been killed in the violence, and at least a million have been displaced. At least half of Central Africans depend on humanitarian aid, the U.N. reported last year.
The U.N. humanitarian chief for CAR, Najat Rochdi, has warned that the country will see a famine within a few years “if the situation is remaining the same and people are not going back to work their fields.”
The CAR bishops have repeatedly issued pleas for peace. They declared December 1 last year as a day of mourning and prayer for victims of violence. The day is normally celebrated as the anniversary of the nation’s establishment as a republic after French colonial rule.