Peace process takes a hit in Central African Republic

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A Sudanese led rebel faction in the Central African Republic has engaged the armies of the Central African Republic (CAR) over a disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process- under a peace agreement signed ahead of national elections in CAR, military and rebel sources said.

According to reports, Abdallah Admed, a Sudanese who took Central African nationality led disgruntled members of the rebel group, the Movement of Central-African Liberators for Justice (MLCJ) in a siege of Birao, the main town in the north of the country on Monday, although the town was recaptured by the Central-African Armed Forces (FACA) by midday.

“The attack was carried out by bandits excluded from the MLCJ who called themselves dissidents. These men are led by Abdallah Admed, a Sudanese who took Central African nationality,” Captain Abakar Sabone, the leader of the MLCJ was quoted.

The attack came days after the government and ex-rebels began meetings in Paoua in the northwestern part of the country to verify the list of names of former fighters involved in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process. “Units of the Central-African Armed Forces (FACA) at the moment control the town of Birao,” the AP quoted an anonymous source.

The attacks were condemned by the CAR government, which said they would not be allowed to derail the peace process. But Abdallah Admed believes he and his group were entitled to a food allowance while waiting to become fully part of the DDR process which has been designed to open the way for much-delayed polls. The country’s electoral commission has proposed October 24 as a new date.

The United Nations, which has 300 troops from the UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) based in Birao, has estimated that there were 162,000 internally displaced people in the CAR at the end of 2009.

“If the government works to meet its commitments, it is up to the [rebel leaders] to meet theirs. We are not going to be dragged along forever in this spiral of violence, nor forget that the world is progressing around us,” government spokesman Fidele Gouandjika was quoted by reporters.

CAR is also gripped by a humanitarian crisis due to such clashes, as well as violence against villagers by the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army, which has fled military operations in neighboring Uganda.

Birao has been historically controlled by the former rebel Union of Democratic Forces, who signed a peace accord with the government in 2007.

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