Fighting militant groups in the Central African Republic have agreed to a peace deal

An agreement was signed between ten militia groups in the Central African Republic and the country’s defence ministry in the capital Bangui, Reuters reported.

It is hoped the move will bring an end to a conflict that has led to the deaths of thousands of people and displaced nearly a million. The agreement called for the disarmament of the groups and raised the possibility of their prosecution for war crimes committed during the two-year conflict.

“On the path towards peace, the step made today is a very important one,” Babacar Gaye, the top UN official in the country, is reported to have said.

“I want to believe that the commitment is sincere and that we will engage in the construction of progressive peace.”

“The fighters of all the armed groups accept and commit to putting a definitive end to the armed conflicts in Central African Republic,” the agreement is reported to have read.

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The deal also included an agreement banning the use of children as soldiers or military workers.

The Central African Republic has been the scene of violent clashes since 2013, when the predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, prompting retaliation from Christian militias. A transitional government has been formed under president Catherine Samba-Panza, with UN backing, but violence has remained commonplace.

Photo title: Children in Birao, Central African Republic. The new agreement also includes banning the use of children as soldiers.

Photo credit: © Pierre Holtz for UNICEF