UN sanctions expected against people behind CAR violence

January 27, 2014 4:58 pm
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A woman reacts as red cross workers retrieve the bodies of people killed the previous night following an overnight attack by Anti-Balaka Chrisitan militiamen in the majority Muslim PK 13 district of Bangui, on January 23, 2014/AFP
A woman reacts as red cross workers retrieve the bodies of people killed the previous night following an overnight attack by Anti-Balaka Chrisitan militiamen in the majority Muslim PK 13 district of Bangui, on January 23, 2014/AFP

, BANGUI, Jan 27 – The United Nations was expected on Tuesday to adopt a resolution imposing sanctions against those who foment violence in the crisis-wracked Central African Republic, a French official said Monday.

Meanwhile, troops of an African peacekeeping force known as MISCA were escorting out of Bangui former rebels of the mainly Muslim coalition that seized power in March last year, according to residents and a senior human rights observer.

The UN measure will target “individuals who harm peace and stability and hinder the process of political transition in the Central African Republic by fuelling violence” and violating human rights, foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said in Paris.

The draft resolution, sponsored by France, was announced after further clashes Sunday in the CAR capital, despite last week’s election of interim President Catherine Samba Panza by the transitional parliament in the former French colony, torn by inter-religious strife.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that Washington was weighing “targeted” CAR sanctions against “those who further destabilise the situation or pursue their own selfish ends by abetting or encouraging the violence”.

Repeating President Barack Obama’s call for peace in the poor, landlocked country, the top US diplomat said “the United States stands with Transitional President Samba-Panza” in her reconciliation efforts and bid to hold elections by February 2015.

Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director for Human Rights Watch, said that one of the convoys carrying men of the Seleka coalition drove out of Bangui on Sunday with a large armed escort from MISCA, an African Union force of 5,200 men backed by 1,600 French troops.

They were headed north in the direction of Bossembele, said Bouckaert, who added that ex-fighters, including many men from neighbouring Chad and Sudan, were still negotiating with MISCA about their departure.

Bangui residents sheltered in the Kasai camp, one of the largest of several housing some 400,000 displaced people in all, said that the ex-Seleka forces who were there on Sunday “fled with their weapons, deserting the place.”

Successive waves of former rebels took to a hill that overlooks the camp. “At first light (on Sunday), they took residents hostage to lead them far away from the camp in the direction of the northern road out,” one witness said.

French soldiers of Operation Sangaris, which supports MISCA, had entered the Kasai camp on Saturday morning to register fighters who took refuge there from December 5, when France went into military action in its coup-prone former colony.

Muslims ‘are now extremely vulnerable’

In March last year, the Seleka brought one of their leaders, Michel Djotodia, to power, but he was forced out by his regional African peers on January 10 for failing to halt atrocities by the rebels and brutal reprisals by vigilante groups from the Christian majority.

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