After a year and a half of vicious bloodshed, Christian militia and Muslim Seleka rebels have drawn up a ceasefire in response to the deaths of thousands in Central African Republic. Requests have been subsided for both groups, with one of the failed demands being that the country is split based on the religious line on behalf of the rebel forces.
The warring groups traveled to the Congo to have the ceasefire initiated by the Congolese president, Denis Sassou N’Guesso, the formal mediator of the conflict. After the signing, President N’Guesso made a statement to the press: “We have taken the first step today. The journey is long, but we have made promises. After what has happened here, I am confident.” Both groups hold hope for future democratic elections to replace multiple informal and interim leaders.
The effects of this violence have not gone unnoticed, with over 1 million people fleeing their homes due to the conflict. While the Central African Republic ceasefire appears to be the first step to a different future, both sides took precautions at the signing ceremony with heavy military representation in case the other forgot their capabilities.
Both sides have shown their willingness to enforce the ceasefire, and those that are caught breaking the truce would face arrest.
Head of the Seleka delegation made a statement after the signing. “We have signed this ceasefire agreement today in front of everyone. Our commitment is firm and irreversible,” said Mohamed Moussa Dhaffane.
Seleka’s violent rule began back in March of 2013 when they rose to power, a group made up of various northerners from neighboring countries like Chad and Sudan. The “tit for tat” aggressions quickly developed the anti-balaka militia and the two warring sides immediately fell into an endless cycle of battle, even after the Seleka government stepped down in early 2014. Since then the violence has continued to affect Central African Republic, causing death tolls in the thousands for both sides.
Both the Seleka and anti-Balaka leadership appear willing to concede to the changes required by a ceasefire, but the amount of work to be done to bring the country together will take much more than a few agreements and a little time. The future of CAR is cloudy as both groups are forced to work with one another again and put on a united front for their people, as well as the rest of the world.
– Elena Lopez