Saturday marked two years since the Central African Republic’s government signed a peace deal with rebel groups in an attempt to end years of fighting, but the country faces growing violence that threatens to null the agreement.
“Instead of celebrating the dividends of peace, we are celebrating the second anniversary in a context of war,” President Faustin-Archange Touadera said.
Despite the violence, he said the agreement was not void and urged parties to stay faithful to it while assuring civilians that the army is doing what it can to reclaim rebel-held areas.
The renewed violence occurred after the constitutional court rejected former president Francois Bozize’s candidacy for December’s presidential election.
A coalition of the six strongest militias backing Bozize seeks to overturn the election results. Touadera won a second term with 53 percent of the vote.
While the country had a few years of relative calm, intermittent fighting has continued since the peace deal with 14 rebel groups was signed. Eight still adhere to the agreement.
The U.N. has called on authorities to hold meaningful and inclusive talks with the political opposition and armed groups that have renounced the violence.
Meanwhile, the mineral-rich nation faces an increasingly dire humanitarian crisis, with some 200,000 people fleeing their homes in less than two months, according to the U.N.