UN considers Central African Republic arms embargo

Claims that both sides in virtually lawless nation may have committed war crimes

Central African Republic’s president Michel Djotodia leaves the presidential palace after speaking with civil society members in Bangui, Central African Republic. Photograph: Joe Penney/Reuters

Central African Republic’s president Michel Djotodia leaves the presidential palace after speaking with civil society members in Bangui, Central African Republic. Photograph: Joe Penney/Reuters

Wed, Nov 27, 2013, 01:00

The UN Security Council is considering imposing an arms embargo on the virtually lawless Central African Republic as well as putting a travel ban on people undermining the country’s stability, fuelling violence and abusing human rights.

The landlocked, mineral- rich nation of 4.6 million people has slipped into chaos since northern Seleka rebels seized the capital, Bangui, in March and ousted president François Bozizé. Rights groups say both sides may have committed war crimes.


Draft resolution
France has drafted a resolution that would not only see the council establish its first new sanctions regime in 18 months but also authorise African peacekeepers and French troops to take all necessary measures to protect civilians, restore security and help re-establish state authority.

France, which will be president of the 15-member council for December, hopes the resolution can be passed next week.

US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power tweeted last week: “Long past time for swift deployment of AU forces and imposing sanctions on perpetrators of violence.”

The Security Council already has 13 sanctions regimes in place on Somalia/Eritrea, al-Qaeda, Iraq, Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Lebanon, North Korea, Iran, Libya, the Taliban and Guinea-Bissau.


Wave of killings
Central African Republic’s interim president, Michel Djotodia, the former Seleka rebel leader, has failed to control his mostly Muslim fighters, who have preyed upon the mainly Christian population, unleashing a wave of tit-for-tat killings.

The draft underlines “its particular concern at the re-emergence of militia groups known as the ‘anti-balaka’ and at the new dynamic of violence and retaliation and the risk of it degenerating into a country-wide religious and ethnic divide, with the potential to spiral into an uncontrollable situation, including atrocity crimes, with serious regional implications”.

The resolution proposes an initial one-year arms embargo.

It decides that all states “shall immediately take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the CAR, from or through their territories or by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related materiel”. Individuals would be placed under a travel ban if they were “acting to undermine the peace, stability and security . . . engaging in or providing support for actions that threaten or impede the political process or fuel violence, including through abuses of human rights”. – (Reuters)