Central African Republic peace deal faces setback

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Central African Republic’s month-old peace deal with armed groups faces its first major challenge, after several signatories said a newly-formed government was not sufficiently representative.

The new cabinet, announced on Sunday, was meant to usher in a period of stability and political co-operation in the volatile country, after a peace agreement was reached with 14 armed groups in February.

Four of the rebel groups have withdrawn representatives from government or demanded a reshuffle, including FPRC, one of the main participants.

On Monday, another rebel group MLCJ demanded the prime minister re-organise cabinet within 72 hours.

“We have noted certain changes of mood among some of our brothers,” Prime Minister Firmin Ngrebada said on television in response to the criticism, urging all sides to keep the peace.

“Government is prepared to discuss with representatives of former armed groups the possibility of broadening the basis of their participation in the management of public affairs.”

Central African Republic has been rocked by violence since 2013 when mainly Muslim Selaka rebels ousted then President Francois Bozize, prompting reprisals from mostly Christian militia.

Thousands died because of unrest in the diamond and gold-producing country and 20% of the 4.5 million population fled their homes.

Government and rebels expressed optimism when the peace deal was signed on February 5. Lasting stability is not guaranteed: similar agreements in 2014, 2015 and 2017 all broke down.