| AU, UN to revive Central African Republic peace talks

Senior officials from the African Union and the United Nations arrived in the Central African Republic on Tuesday in a bid to revive a peace process in the strife-torn country.

UN and AU representatives were joined by officials from the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and others “to relaunch international efforts for lasting peace in the country,” a UN statement said.

The aim is to promote “dialogue between the government and armed groups under the auspices of the African Union initiative,” the statement added.

Rival militias have been battling each other since the 2013 overthrow of longtime leader Francois Bozize, a Christian, by majority-Muslim militias in a coalition called the Seleka.

Most of the country’s territory is overrun with armed groups despite the 2016 election of President Faustin-Archange Touadera.

The AU has been striving to set up negotiations with the militias and the government since July 2017, but diplomats and observers have criticised the process, supported by the UN and CAR’s main partners, for inefficiency.

This latest peace initiative, scheduled to run until Thursday, includes UN under secretary for peacekeeping operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix and AU peace commissioner Smail Chergui.

France, CAR’s former colonial ruler, criticised separate Russian-Sudanese efforts to broker peace deals with CAR militia groups in Khartoum last year as unhelpful.

Violence in CAR has claimed thousands of lives, with hundreds of thousands internally displaced or fleeing abroad.

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