Bangui (Central African Republic) (AFP) - The government of the Central African Republic has rejected an offer from Russia to mediate talks with armed rebels, a spokesman told AFP on Thursday.
Moscow offered to hold a meeting with government and rebel representatives from the violence-wracked nation in Khartoum, but the official in Bangui said it was not accepted by President Faustin-Archange Touadera.
"The head of state believes that there is no room for other processes other than the ongoing African Union process," Albert Yaloke-Makpeme told AFP.
One of Africa's poorest countries, the CAR descended into violence in 2013 following the ouster of the majority-Christian country's president, Francois Bozize, by a coalition of Muslim-majority rebel groups called the Seleka.
In response, Christians, who account for about 80 percent of the population, organised vigilante units dubbed "anti-balaka".
France intervened militarily to help force out the Seleka before handing on to a UN peacekeeping mission.
However, the central government remains very weak, and violence has led to thousands of deaths. Nearly 700,000 people are displaced, 570,000 are refugees abroad and 2.5 million are in need of humanitarian aid, according to the UN.
An African Union peace process, launched in July 2017, has largely failed to stem the violence.
On Sunday the armed rebel FPRC group said in a statement that it was willing to enter into "preliminary discussions" with the authorities.
Russia has military advisers in the CAR to train army recruits and to bolster Touadera's personal security.