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ICC Note: After two and a half years of conflict, delegates from both sides of warring factions in the Central African Republic have begun talks towards peace, working on an initial agreement to free child soldiers. While the conflict can mostly be characterized as a political struggle, fighting factions have assumed identity along religious lines, and much of the narrative in the country has pit Christians against Muslims. As a result, the conflict has seen Christian populations targeting Muslims and Muslims carrying out attacks against Christians. International Christian Concern condemns all violence towards civilians simply on the basis of their religion.

5/6/15 Bangui, Central African Republic (World Watch Monitor) – A week-long attempt to reconcile warring elements in the Central African Republic is underway in Bangui, the capital.

About 600 delegates — representing armed groups, political parties, government, and civil society — are grappling with the causes of the 2 ½-year cycle of deadly, often sectarian, violence, as well as with possible solutions and plans for the future of the country.

One early result: An agreement by the armed groups to release between 6,000 and 10,000 child soldiers and to stop underage recruitment, UNICEF said May 5 in Geneva.

Delegates to the forum include representatives of Christian and Muslim groups, and for Anatole Banga, a pastor and vice-president of the Evangelical Alliance in Central Africa, the forum looks like a last-chance meeting.

”Today, everyone wants peace,” he said. “There is a real will to turn the page of the past and enable the country to start again on new basis. ”

Landlocked and largely impoverished, the French-speaking Central African Republic has a long history of unstable, military governments since it gained independence in 1960. The most recent crisis began in early 2013 with a Muslim rebel uprising, which precipitated a backlash that has been deadly to Muslims. A July 2014 cease-fire pact has been frequently violated.

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