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Rival factions in CAR agree to disarm

Armed groups in Central African Republic have agreed to lay down their weapons and stop fighting, the UN has said. The agreement also denies amnesty to those involved in war crimes in the two-year conflict.

The deal between ten rival militias and the Defense Ministry was signed Sunday, after lengthy negotiations within a national peace summit in the capital Bangui.

In the agreement, the fighters commit to "putting a definitive end" to the bloody civil war in Central African Republic (CAR).

The special representative of the UN Secretary General, Babacar Gaye, said the signing of the accord has turned a page in the country.

"On the path towards peace, the step made today is a very important one," he said.

The disarmament process will be supported by a 10,000-strong UN

peacekeeping force

.

No amnesty for war criminals

The latest deal was signed at the end of Bangui reconciliation summit, attended by religious, political and civil society leaders, as well as international representatives.

The weeklong forum aims to settle the conflict which claimed thousands of lives and forced over a million people out of their homes, after the violence between Christians and Muslims erupted in March 2013. Both sides blame each other for human rights abuses and war crimes.

On Sunday, the officials also called for urgent creation of special criminal court, with the agreement saying that those involved in "crime of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity" would be denied amnesty.

Previously, armed factions

agreed to release their child soldiers

, as well as children used as sex slaves, cooks or messengers.

The country remains divided along sectarian lines, and isolated killings continue. However, a measure of order has been restored under the transitional government led by President Catherine Samba-Panza.

The government, alongside civil society leaders and UN peacekeepers, is working to pave the way for nation-wide elections scheduled in August.

dj/bw (AP, Reuters)

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