Fri, Apr 11, 2014 - Page 6 News List

UN may approve Central African Republic force


Women and children of the Pulaar ethnicity wait in line in the Begoua district, northeast of Bangui, Central African Republic, to receive humanitarian and medical aid on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

France predicted that the UN Security Council would vote unanimously yesterday to authorize a nearly 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping force for the Central African Republic, which has been torn apart by increasing violence between Christians and Muslims for several months.

The 10,000 UN troops and 1,800 police would take over from more than 5,000 African Union soldiers — but not until Sept. 15.

France, the country’s former colonial power, which drafted the resolution, scheduled the vote for yesterday morning.

A separate 2,000-strong French force in the Central African Republic would be authorized to use “all necessary means” to support the new UN force, to be known as MINUSCA.

The Central African Republic has been in chaos since a coup in March last year, when mostly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power and launched a brutal regime.

Christian anti-Balaka militia attacked Seleka strongholds in the capital, Bangui, in early December last year, and as the rebel government crumbled in January, the anti-Balaka stepped up the violence, forcing tens of thousands of Muslims to flee.

The draft UN resolution expresses serious concern at multiple violations of human rights and humanitarian law committed by both former Seleka elements and anti-Balaka militia, including killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, sexual violence against women and children, rape and attacks on civilians, “in particular, but not limited to Muslims,” and attacks on places of worship.

The draft resolution “demands that all militias and armed groups put aside their arms, cease all forms of violence and destabilizing activities immediately and release children from their ranks.”

The Security Council wants a strong mandate and the draft would authorize the new UN force to protect civilians, supporting the disarmament of combatants and the restoration of peace, law and order.

It would also authorize MINUSCA to help investigate violations of human rights and humanitarian law by armed groups, including former Seleka rebels and the anti-Balaka.

While UN peacekeepers and police will not take over until Sept. 15, the draft resolution is to establish the UN mission immediately.

The mission is to take over all activities of the UN political office in Bangui, including supporting the political transition process, humanitarian assistance and human rights monitoring.

The draft welcomes UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for “revitalization and acceleration of the political and reconciliation process in order to lay the ground for an end to the conflict,” and it urges the transitional Central African Republic authorities to accelerate preparations for free and fair elections no later than February next year.

The draft resolution says: “All perpetrators of violations of international humanitarian law, and human rights violations and abuses, must be held accountable and that some of these acts may amount to crimes under the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court.”

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