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Bargaining with Militant Leaders hasn’t Worked for Bangui

Shortly after signing a peace accord last year, the Central African Republic (CAR) issued a presidential decree naming leaders of the 14 armed groups that control most of the country as government advisers. The peace deal, signed in the Sudanese capital Khartoum in the presence of mediators from the African Union, was the sixth since late 2012, when a political crisis triggered a protracted humanitarian crisis that has left 2.9 million people (63 percent of the population) in need of aid, according to United Nations figures. Some of the rebel leaders stayed in government while others have reneged. One of those in the latter category is Ali Darassa, head of the Union for Peace in the CAR (UPC), who is again being courted by a government keen to maintain peace at all costs. In its latest attempt in April, President Faustin-Archange Touadera reportedly brought Darassa to the capital Bangui in a state-sponsored chartered plane, gave him some money and fired a cabinet minister — recommended previously by the warlord — at his request. As unrest worsens and a wave of fluid jihadism moves through the wider Sahel region, new power brokers like Darassa are blending into government to confer some legitimacy on themselves.