Representatives of the Central African Republic's warring camps on Thursday failed to find common ground in government-brokered talks
BANGUI – Representatives of the Central African Republic (CAR)'s warring camps on Thursday failed to find common ground in government-brokered talks in the city of Boda aimed at resolving a sectarian conflict that has plagued the country since last year, a local military official has said.
French peacekeepers intervened to secure the exit of five government ministers who had been mediating the talks after tensions flared when non-Muslim representatives demanded the expulsion of the city's Muslim residents, according to the official.
Muslim representatives, for their part, led by Boda Mayor Awal Mahamat, demanded security for the city's Muslims and that the highway linking Boda to northern Mbaiki be reopened.
Kouroupeawo Alexander, prefect of the Lobaye region, also attended the meeting, along with the commanders of the U.N. Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA).
CAR, a landlocked, mineral-rich country, descended into anarchy one year ago when seleka rebels – said to be mostly Muslim – ousted Christian president Francois Bozize, who had come to power in a 2003 coup.
According to the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), around 173,000 people have been internally displaced by the violence since last December, while 37,000 others have fled to neighboring countries.
Over 30,000 have sought refuge in the nearby Democratic Republic of Congo, while Chad has received 5600 and Cameroon roughly 1000 refugees, according to UNHCR figures.
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