African envoys wind up militia meetings in troubled C Africa

Envoys from the African Union (AU) have finished a round of meetings with militia groups in the troubled Central African Republic (CAR), the panel said on Monday.

The AU's goal is to host a round table gathering armed groups and the government under an "African peace initiative" for the CAR adopted last July.

The head of the panel, Moussa Nebie, who is also the AU's representative here, said the round of contact meetings - the second since the initiative was launched - wound up on Sunday.

"We have just concluded a second round with armed groups," he said.

"We have just met the RJ [Revolution Justice] group in Paoua in the northwest. It promised to work together with the panel toward the round table which will be organised."

The AU facilitators say they have met 14 armed groups in all, and the round table will start in "a few weeks."

Poor, violence-torn and chronically unstable, the former French colony has a weak government that can claim to control just a fifth of the country.

The rest of the territory is in the hands of militia groups, some of which are nominally pro-Muslim or pro-Christian, that often fight each other for control over the country's mineral wealth.

The AU initiative is the fourth to have been attempted in less than four years.

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