UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has welcomed the declaration of a unilateral ceasefire in the Central African Republic (CAR), his spokesperson said in a statement issued on Saturday.
President Faustin Archange Touadera on Friday announced the accord with armed groups, stating that he hoped it would lead to dialogue and greater protection of civilians, according to media reports.
The Secretary-General commended the development, describing it as a "critical step" which is in line with a roadmap for peace adopted in September by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, an intergovernmental organization of 12 African countries.
Some leaders of the main rebel alliance, the CPC, have reportedly welcomed the ceasefire.
The CAR has faced cycles of rebel violence since the 2013 ouster of former leader Francois Bozize, and despite the signing of an agreement between the Government and 14 armed groups two years ago.
A UN mission, known by the French acronym MINUSCA, has been in the country since 2014 with a mandate to protect civilians and support peace processes.
Respect the ceasefire
"The Secretary-General calls on all the other parties to immediately respect this ceasefire and renew efforts to advance the implementation of the 2019 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation," the statement said.
He further called for the sides to engage constructively through an inclusive political dialogue.
The UN chief reiterated his commitment to continue mobilizing international support for the Government and people of the CAR as they pursue peace, reconciliation, and development.