Former CAR rebels sign truce

2011-10-10 14:30

Bangui - Two former rebel groups behind fighting in Central African Republic that claimed over 50 lives last month have signed a truce, government mediators said late on Saturday.

The fighting was over control of a diamond mine near the town of Bria 600km from the capital Bangui and risked escalating into a broader tribal conflict with reports of fighters going house-to-house hunting ethnic rivals.

"We will now be able to proceed with the disarmament of these former rebels by the end of the month," General Xavier Sylvestre Yangongo, the minister in charge of organising the demobilisation of the former rebel UFDR and CPJP groups said.

There was no immediate comment from either of the groups to the accord, which gives both of them a week to withdraw from Bria. Both had already signed ceasefire agreements with the government after years of insurgency, but remained armed.

Instability in landlocked CAR, roughly the size of France, has discouraged major investment in its gold, uranium and diamond deposits.

President Francois Bozize took power in a 2003 coup and won a new mandate in January elections, the results of which were dismissed by opponents as fraudulent.

A 2006 advance by the 3 000-strong UFDR on the capital Bangui was only halted with the intervention of French armed forces. The CPJP embarked on a separate rebellion with about 1 000 soldiers before agreeing a ceasefire in June.