UNITED NATIONS, Apr 30 – The UN Security Council called on African states to strengthen their peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic as mounting chaos grips the country.
With daily attacks and rapes reported in the capital, Bangui, the 15-nation council called on the interim government to get a grip on security and for rebels who ousted President Francois Bozize to return to their barracks.
Council members “expressed their willingness to consider further options to stabilize the Central African Republic,” said a statement released by the body after a closed briefing on the strife called by France. It gave no details of what further measures could be considered.
Bangui has been badly hit by looting and criminality in the month since a rebel coalition, Seleka, seized the capital on March 24, completing their takeover of the huge nation.
Scores of people have since been killed in clashes involving former rebels and Seleka forces. Street killings and looting have also become widespread.
Bozize fled in the hours before the rebel rout and more than 300 of his top followers have taken refuge at the M’poko military camp near Bangui, which is the base for the force sent by the Economic Community of the Central African States (ECCAS) in January.
The council reaffirmed the importance of a January 18 deal, brokered by ECCAS with Seleka and Bozize. The major powers called for the “strengthening” of the ECCAS force “with a view to restoring security and helping restructure Central African security forces.”
Regional leaders said on April 18 that they would send an extra 2,000 soldiers to the Central African Republic but did not set a timeline.
The council statement expressed “strong concern at the worsening humanitarian and security situation” and called on the interim government to “restore peace and security” in and around the capital by deploying extra forces.
Seleka now controls virtually the whole country. But the Security Council said its leaders must ensure that their fighters “abstain from all violent action” and withdraw to “cantonment sites” as agreed in the January 18 deal.
The Security Council said that all those responsible for human rights violations and the recruitment of child soldiers “must be held accountable.”
It added that an “inclusive government” must be swiftly named and elections held within 18 months.
The council also expressed concern over the impact of the collapse of security in the Central African Republic on the hunt for Lord’s Resistance Army rebel fighters, including its leader Joseph Kony.