UN eyes new Central African Republic sanctions

Faced with proliferating sexual abuse scandals involving UN peacekeepers, particularly in the Central African Republic, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has vowed to repatriate entire units if necessary (AFP Photo/Edouard Dropsy)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The UN Security Council on Tuesday said it was ready to impose a fresh round of sanctions to punish those responsible for an upsurge of violence in the Central African Republic.

The 15-member council also urged authorities in the volatile country to set a new date for elections after polls set for October were scuppered because of the latest wave of clashes.

The Central African Republic is struggling to recover from the 2013 coup that unleashed the bloodletting between Muslim Seleka rebels and Christian militias.

In a unanimously adopted statement drafted by France, the council "reiterates its intention to further expand" the sanctions list by "adding those responsible for the recent outbreak of violence."

France is drawing a new list of individuals to be blacklisted following the wave of violence in late September that left at least 61 dead and hundreds wounded before French and UN troops intervened to restore calm.

This would be the third round of sanctions targeting individuals in the Central African Republic, where presidential and parliamentary elections are seen as the next step to bolster stability.

In August, the UN sanctions committee imposed an assets freeze on the Belgian arm of a diamond firm, Badica/Kardiam, for providing support to armed groups through illegal trading in diamonds and gold.

It also slapped a global travel ban and an assets freeze on anti-balaka militia leader Alfred Yekatom as well as a provincial militia commander Habib Soussou.

A former Seleka general, Oumar Younous, described as a diamond smuggler close to former president Michel Djotodia, was also added to the sanctions list.

Younous, who has a Sudanese passport, is cited for his role in the illegal diamond trade from the Central African Republic to Sudan.

A first wave of UN sanctions were imposed in May 2014, targeting Bozize, Seleka leader Nourredine Adam and anti-balaka political coordinator Levy Yakete.

The council said a constitutional referendum and a first round of elections should be held by the end of the year.

It also tasked the UN peacekeeping mission in the country to work with CAR authorities to investigate and identify those responsible for the outbreak of violence and bring them to justice.

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