Reuters reports today that Central African Republic's newly elected president, Faustin-Archange Touadera, plans to focus on reconciliation, peace and disarmament in a country torn apart by years of war, his campaign director said on Monday.
A respected former prime minister (in the 2013 government of Bozize), Faustin-Archange Touadera won a presidential run-off on Saturday in what was widely seen as a step towards reconciliation after years of violent turmoil.
No doubt huge challenges remain in one of the world's most unstable countries which is divided along ethnic and religious lines with some parts of the country still run by warlords.
"The priority will be peace, social cohesion and security," Touadera's campaign director Simplice Sarandji told Reuters. He underlined that, "The emphasis will be put on the DDRR (disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and repatriation) programme, then on the restructuring of the armed forces."
Central African Republic suffered its worst crisis in history when in early 2013 the mainly Muslim aligned Seleka fighters toppled president Francois Bozize. The so-called Christian anti-Balaka militias responded by attacking the Muslim community. A fifth of the country's population have since fled their homes to escape the violence.
Touadera, 58, a former mathematics professor who campaigned against corruption, won 62.71 percent of votes cast in the 14 February election. The president will focus on disarming the Seleka and anti-Balaka fighters with help from the international community, Sarandji said. "If deemed suitable, some rebels will be able to join the army," he added.
"Those who wish to engage in other activities can do so with government support, of course," he said. Sarandji added that any major decisions, including forming a government or appointing a prime minister, will be taken after the president's inauguration.
Pope Francis visited the Central African Republic between 29 and 30 November 2015 and passionately appealed to warring factions to lay down arms and embrace peace.
Visiting the nearly 4 000 residents of the St. Sauveur internally displaced persons’ Church camp in Bangui, Pope Francis told them, "My wish for you, and for all Central Africans, is peace," Through a Sango-speaking translator, Pope Francis then led residents in a chant:
"We are all brothers. We are all brothers."
"And because we are brothers, we want peace."
(Reuters/ additional reporting Vatican Radio)