Central African Republic: Peace Talks Suspended

Peace talks between the government of the Central African Republic and rebels have been suspended, after the main rebel group failed to show up for the second day of the session.

The talks, in the neighboring Republic of Congo, were put on hold Tuesday due to the absence of former Seleka rebels.

A former C.A.R. minister, Abacar Sabone, who now represents the MLCJ (Movement of the Central African Liberators for Justice) rebel group, told VOA's French to Africa Service that mediators went to the hotel where Seleka representatives are staying to try to get them to return.

By late Tuesday afternoon, there was no word on whether the delegates will return for the third and final day of the talks on Wednesday.

On Monday, Seleka leader Moussa Daffane said a partition is needed in the Central African Republic before the mostly Muslim Seleka can hold talks with mostly Christian anti-balaka militants.
He called for the C.A.R. to be divided into a Muslim north and a Christian south.

Relief organizations estimate at least 2,000 people have been killed in the C.A.R.'s unrest and more than one million have been forced to flee from their homes.

The unrest began last year when Seleka toppled President Francois Bozize. Subsequent attacks and looting by Seleka forces sparked retaliatory attacks by the anti-balaka.

On Tuesday, the U.N. refugee agency issued a new appeal for aid to help the more than 350,000 C.A.R. residents who are now refugees in neighboring countries.

Spokesman Babar Baloch said many of the new refugees are malnourished, after having spent weeks walking through forests with little food or water.

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