Central African Republic (CAR) officials and rebel groups have recorded remarkable success during a meeting to brainstorm on the implementation of a disarmament deal in Bangui.
For the first time in the Disarmament, Demobilization, Reinsertion and Repatriation programme, DDRR, the Central African Republic Government was seated at the same table with all the armed groups responsible for numerous abuses in the country.
“General progress has been quite substantial,” said Jean-Marc Tafani, head of the disarmament process for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Central Africa, MINUSCA.
The meeting took place on Friday with representatives of 14 armed groups.
A faction of ex- Seleka rebels known as the FPRC want “a political agreement which allows their participation in government”, “more development programmes in their regions North of the Central African Republic”, as well as the putting in place of a mixed force made up of Muslims and Christians.
The disarmament programme is financed to the tune of $45M by the World Bank, United Nations and the government of the Central African Republic with the aim of disarming and reinserting close to 5000 rebels.
The next meeting of the Advisory Committee of the DDRR Management will take place between May 25 and 27.
The Central African Republic is the poorest country in the world and is struggling to come out of a political crisis sparked in 2013 by the toppling of former president Francois Bozizé by Seleka rebels-mostly Muslims which was followed by resistance from the anti-balaka Christian dominated militia.
The U.N. says some 2.2 million people more than half the population remain in dire need of assistance.
While parts of the country remain wracked by violence, a military intervention in 2013 by France and MINUSCA restored relative calm to the capital Bangui.
But since France withdrew in October, and with the Central African army still under an international arms embargo, U.N. peacekeepers are now the sole functioning force on the ground.