UN condemns violence, extends sanctions on CAfrican Republic

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council condemned ongoing violence and instability in Central African Republic on Tuesday in a resolution extending an arms embargo on the country and sanctions on individuals and entities for a year.

The resolution adopted unanimously by the council also condemns acts of incitement to violence that undermine peace, especially "on an ethnic or religious basis," and says for the first time that those responsible could face sanctions.

The council also reiterated that sanctions can be imposed for a host of other reasons including undermining peace or security in CAR, violating international human rights and humanitarian law, directing or committing acts involving sexual or gender-based violence, and supporting criminal networks.

Central African Republic has been wracked by violence between Muslims and Christians since predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels overthrew the Christian president in March 2013 and seized power.

Anti-Balaka militias, mostly Christians, fought back, resulting in thousands of deaths, the displacement of hundreds of thousands more, and the flight of many Muslims to the country's north and across the border into Chad and Cameroon.

Despite peaceful elections in early 2016, sectarian violence has moved into the impoverished country's central and southeastern regions, prompting warnings of a national conflict roaring back to life.

France's UN Ambassador Francois Delattre, whose country drafted the resolution, called the incitement of violence based on religion or ethnicity, and attacks against humanitarian workers and UN peacekeepers "a scourge for the CAR."

"The perpetrators of these calls for violence must henceforth know that their acts will not go unpunished," he said.

Delattre stressed that "there can be no lasting peace in the CAR if this continues."

As for the arms embargo, he said that "armed groups unfortunately are still present on a large part of the territory and continue to get supplies" of weapons and ammunition illegally from neighboring countries.

Armed groups "also make the most of the illicit trade in natural resources to get rick," Delattre said.

The resolution expresses concern "that illicit trafficking, trade, exploitation and smuggling of natural resources including gold, diamonds, and wildlife has a negative impact in the economic and development of the country, and that it continues to threaten peace and stability of the CAR."

The CAR sanctions blacklist currently includes 11 individuals and two entities — a diamond-purchasing organization and the Lord's Resistance Army, which the resolution says remains active in the country's southeast "having carried out the killing and abduction of civilians, including children and women."

The resolution notes "with concern" that sanctioned individuals are traveling in the region in violation of a travel ban and that "funds, financial assets and economic resources of listing individuals and entities have still not been frozen" as required.

The resolution extends sanctions until Jan. 31, 2019 and the mandate of the panel of experts monitoring their implementation until Feburary 28, 2019.

It asks the experts to report on incitement to violence, particularly on "an ethnic or religious basis" that is undermining peace. And it encourages the panel "to devote special attention" to analyzing "illicit trafficking networks which continue to fund and supply armed groups."