The Central African Republic on Monday kicked off national reconciliation talks in a bid to bring peace to the troubled country -- but no rebel groups were invited and the opposition is boycotting the forum.
Representatives of the ruling party, civil society figures and invited guests attended the opening of the Central African Republic national reconciliation talks.
In a bid to bring peace to the troubled country, President Faustin Archange Touadera promised in late 2020 to hold the so-called Republican Dialogue for reconciliation.
Several hundred people attended the launch of the forum in the national assembly. According to the president’s spokesman, the talks are a good opportunity to start over:
"Central Africans have desired this dialogue for a long time, Albert Yaloke Mokpeme said. They wanted to talk to each other because our country has seen many crisis which made it necessary to discuss."
"I'm expecting frank debates over the country, the economy, bad governance, security," lawyer Bruno Gbiegba told AFP.
If the political opposition had demanded such talks, they were not in the national assembly for the opening ceremony. Former president Bozizé's party KNK and other political groups boycotted the talks because rebel groups were not invited. They also cited the fact that the 2020 post-election crisis didn't appear in the talks roadmap.
An absence, Clothilde Namboï, prefect of Sangha-Mbaéré regretted: "It would have been desirable for armed groups and the opposition to sit down and discuss, but since things are ready, we can't do otherwise, we'll deal with it and see what needs to be done."
A move Cyriac Gonda, the president of COD2020, opposition coalition explained: "Yesterday after a very long meeting, we decided not to participate in the dialogue because some of our conditions were not taken into account regarding the themes and the agenda amongts other things."
The peace talks are set to last one week. The agenda offers little detail on the debates and the dialogue process itselfs. It was not until last Thursday that the organisers released a list of five themes that include "Peace and Security" and "Political Governance, Democratic and Institutional Strengthening".
The Central African Republic has been mired in civil war since 2013. Despite United Nations, peacekeeping mission, which has been present in the country since 2014 security remains a fleeting dream for the majority of Central Africans.