Central African Republic Leader to Stick by 2019 Peace Pact Despite Coup Bid

Central African Republic President Faustin Archange Touadera Saturday said he would honor a 2019 peace pact with 14 rebel groups despite a recent bid by six of them to topple him.

One of the world's poorest countries, the CAR has been locked in violence since 2013, when its then president, Francois Bozize, was overthrown.

Touadera won reelection in the first round of a much-troubled December ballot on a turnout of just 35 percent.

Rebel groups launched an offensive against the capital Bangui in December, as they banded together under the name Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) to try to prevent Touadera's re-election.

"It has been two years since I engaged our country to the accord for peace and reconciliation," Touadera told a news conference.

"This accord aims to create conditions for a sincere dialogue," he said. "Many see it as a sign of weakness ... but I remain convinced that this accord will usher in lasting peace," he said.

The accord calls for the formation of an inclusive government with posts reserved for rebel groups.

"The accord still exists and we will continue to apply it," Touadera said.

Eight years into a civil war, rebels control around two-thirds of the country. That meant many districts were unable to hold the December 27 ballot when Touadera was re-elected in the first round.

But the presence of the 12,000-strong, well-armed and -equipped UN peacekeeping force, MINUSCA, has kept the CPC far from the capital, with help from hundreds of Rwandan troops and Russian paramilitaries sent to shore up the country's ragged army.

On Friday, the CAR parliament approved a six-month extension to a state of emergency declared by the government to help combat armed groups it accuses of seeking to mount a coup.

The state of emergency was first declared for two weeks on January 21, after militia groups tried to advance on Bangui.

Source: Voice of America