Expert: Armed Groups Risk CAR’s Peace Deal by Violating the Accord They Signed

GENEVA - An independent expert warns an agreement to restore peace and reconciliation in the Central African Republic is at risk because of violations by some of the signatories to the accord. The expert submitted her report Wednesday to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

CAR authorities view the agreement signed by the government and 14 armed groups on February 6 in the capital Bangui as a real opportunity to bring peace to this conflict-devastated country.

Independent expert, Marie-Therese Keita Bocoum says the deal allows for armed groups to participate in the running of the government. It highlights the importance of human rights and justice for the victims of years of conflict-inspired atrocities.

If implemented, she says true peace and development for the country could be achieved. Unfortunately, she says deadly coordinated attacks by several armed groups in the Paou region in May have violated the terms of the accord.

If these armed groups claim their place in the peace process, they must immediately put an end to violence," she said. "They must also recall that they can be prosecuted criminally for the direct involvement in the commission of these heinous acts Such acts if they are not punished may endanger the success of the peace process.

Bocoum notes CAR's justice system is not effective and must be reformed to meet peoples' aspirations.

The United Nations reports more than five years of civil conflict has killed thousands of people, internally displaced more than 642,000 civilians, and caused nearly 575,000 people to seek refuge in neighboring countries. More than half of CAR's population of 4.6 million needs humanitarian assistance.

Independent expert Bocoum says addressing the psycho-social needs of this traumatized nation is the very core of the healing process.

It is only by providing response to this situation that Central Africans will fully be able to move towards reconciliation, living together and sustainable peace. Support to the Central African authorities in this area is crucial, she said.

Legal Counselor at the CAR mission at the United Nations in Geneva, Serge Herve Saboro, commends the high quality of work by the independent expert. He says his country is multiplying its efforts to bring the political crisis to an end. He denounces the armed groups who are reneging on the commitments they signed on to in the peace deal.

He says the peace agreement must be respected by all and lead to disarmament, to justice, to reconciliation and to a country that respects the rule of law.

Source: Voice of America