Armed groups control large areas and have displaced about a quarter of the country’s 5 million population.
The president of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Arnchez Toadera, has unilaterally declared a ceasefire against the armed group, saying he hoped it would lead to a peaceful dialogue.
The country has repeatedly witnessed rebel violence since the ouster of former President Francois Bozize in 2013. Armed groups control large areas and have displaced about a quarter of the country’s 5 million population.
Toadera said on television Friday that he believed the ceasefire would help protect civilians from violence and allow them access to humanitarian aid and basic services.
“It is to give peace a chance that I have come this evening to call for an end to the military operation and for the declaration of all armed action in the entire national territory,” Toudera said, noting that the move would take effect at midnight.
A spokesman for the main rebel coalition, the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), told Reuters he welcomed the move and if the government respects the CPC ceasefire. Past peace agreements have quickly broken down.
The latest fighting between the CPC rebels and the military stemmed from a court ruling banning former President Boziেকে from running in last year’s presidential election, where President Faustin-Arnchez Toadera won a second term.
Shortly after taking the oath, the Tuaregs announced that he would hold a national dialogue with his opponents, but the talks have not yet taken place.
Authorities blamed the CPC for frequent attacks on civilians, including the deaths of 20 people last week.
CPC spokesman Abakar Sabone said the party also wanted peace but was fighting in self-defense.
“A ceasefire is a good thing … but we’re just waiting to see how it works on the ground,” he told Reuters.