By Cecile Feuillatre, AFP
BANGUI, Central African Republic–Rival militiamen struck a truce Sunday and hugged each other in a neighborhood of the Central African Republic’s capital on the eve of consultations aimed at replacing the president who resigned under international pressure. The event reported by witnesses and CAR’s chief of staff offered a glimmer of hope that weeks of deadly sectarian violence would end following the resignation Friday of Michel Djotodia, the mainly Christian country’s first Muslim president who left to Benin on Saturday. It followed deadly weekend violence including reports of cannibalism and widespread looting in the capital Bangui. The situation in Bangui was calmer overnight Saturday but looting was still occurring Sunday. CAR chief of staff General Ferdinand Bomboyeke confirmed witness accounts of the laying down of arms which he said occurred after a “deal obtained” by the rivals fighting for days in a southern part of Bangui called Bimbo. The fighting had involved men belonging to the mainly Muslim ex-Seleka rebels who brought Djotodia to power in March and Christian anti-balaka militiamen. It was the first scene of this kind in Bangui following weeks of bloody sectarian violence. The truce occurred after members of the French force in Bangui came to carry out a mediation effort, Roger Kombo, a CAR official said.
The fighters “hugged each other. They asked for forgiveness as people cheered,” Kombo told AFP.