The United Nations says rival armed groups in Central African Republic have signed a deal to lay down their arms and end a conflict that has killed thousands.

The world body said Sunday that 10 armed groups have agreed to "formally disarm, renounce armed struggle as a means of political demands and enter into a process of Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration and Repatriation (DDRR)."

The special representative of the U.N. secretary-general for Central African Republic, Gen. Babacar Gaye, says the signing of the agreement has turned a page for the country.

Central African Republic exploded into sectarian violence in December 2013 after Christian militia fighters attempted to overthrew a government led by Muslim rebels from the country's north.

A transitional government is supposed to be organizing elections for later this year.