BANGUI (Reuters) - Central African Republic's last armed rebel group signed a peace deal with the government on Saturday that was designed to end years of violence in the country.
"We picked up guns to fight the bad governance, corruption, nepotism and exclusion that characterized this regime, and we think that our message has been heard," Abdoulaye Issene Ramadan, leader of the CPJP rebel group, said in the capital Bangui. "Today we bury the hatchet."
Central African Republic has been plagued by years of misrule since independence from France in 1960 and President Francois Bozize, who came to power in a 2003 coup, had faced low-level insurgencies from 2005 to last year.
The four other main rebel groups signed peace deals with the government in 2008.
CPJP fighters, concentrated in the country's northwest, clashed with government troops until the middle of last year when a temporary ceasefire was agreed.
Central African Republic is rich in minerals but is among the world's least developed and most isolated countries. Investment in its mineral wealth has been hindered by the decades of instability.
Bozize won a new term last year in an election that was dismissed as fraudulent by the opposition.
(Reporting by Paul-Marin Ngoupana; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Ralph Gowling)