BRAZZAVILLE/DAKAR (Reuters) - Central African Republic’s mainly Muslim Seleka rebels will sign a ceasefire with ‘anti-balaka’ Christian militia on Wednesday, having dropped their demands for the country to be split in two along religious lines, Seleka officials told Reuters.
Seleka’s call for the country to be officially partitioned into a Muslim north and a Christian south risked derailing talks in Congo Republic aimed at ending religious violence that has killed thousands of people and forced 1 million to flee their homes.
“We will be signing the cessation of hostilities agreement this afternoon,” Colonel Youssouf Ben Moussa, a senior Seleka official, said by telephone from the Seleka-controlled north of Central African Republic.
“Our demand for the partition of the country has been dropped. That demand is obsolete now: what we have agreed to is the sharing of power,” Moussa added.
Most Muslims have fled the south of the former French colony, creating a de-facto partition, but Seleka leaders had pushed for this to be formalized.
Members of Seleka’s negotiating team in Congo Republic confirmed the information. They said they would provide further details after the signing of the deal in Brazzaville, where delegates from the armed groups, transitional government and civil society have held three days of talks.
Central African Republic has been gripped by violence since Seleka seized power in March last year. Seleka’s rule was marked by abuses that prompted the creation of the ‘anti-balaka’ militia. Cycles of tit-for-tat violence have continued despite Seleka’s leaders stepping down from power in January this year.
Reporting by Christian Elion and Bate Felix; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Daniel Flynn