Central African Republic president aide says focus now on peace


Central African Republic’s newly elected president plans to focus on peace and disarmament in a country torn apart by years of war, his campaign director said on Monday.

Former prime minister Faustin-Archange Touadera won a presidential run-off on Saturday in what was widely seen as a step towards reconciliation after years of violent turmoil.

But huge challenges remain in one of the world’s most unstable countries which is divided along ethnic and religious lines and in most parts run by warlords.
“The priority will be peace, social cohesion and security,” Touadera’s campaign director Simplice Sarandji told Reuters.
“The emphasis will be put on the DDRR (disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and repatriation) programme, then on the restructuring of the armed forces.”

Central African Republic suffered the worst crisis in its history in early 2013 when mainly Muslim Seleka fighters toppled president Francois Bozize.

Christian so-called anti-Balaka militias responded by attacking the Muslim minority. A fifth of the population have fled their homes to escape the violence.

Touadera, 58, a former mathematics professor who campaigned against corruption, won 62.71 percent of votes cast in the Feb. 14 election, according to initial results.

The president will focus on disarming the Seleka and anti-Balaka fighters with help from the international community, Sarandji said.

If deemed suitable, some rebels will be able to join the army, he added.
“Those who wish to engage in other activities can do so with government support, of course,” he said.

Sarandji added that any major decisions, including forming a government or appointing a prime minister, will be taken after the president’s inauguration.