UN hopes for action on Central African Republic

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council is hoping to adopt a resolution this week aimed at helping to restore security to the collapsing Central African Republic and demanding swift implementation of a political transition leading to free and fair elections, diplomats said Monday.

The U.N. diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because consultations have been private, said the draft resolution expresses the council’s intention to consider options to support an African Union peacekeeping force, expected to eventually include up to 3,500 troops.

It asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to submit detailed options within 30 days of the resolution’s adoption, including the possibility of transforming the AU force into a U.N. peacekeeping force, the diplomats said.

The Security Council is expected to vote on the resolution on Thursday, they said.

The draft resolution expresses the council’s readiness to consider “appropriate measures” — U.N. language for sanctions — against anyone undermining peace and security or impeding the transitional process, the diplomats said.

Central African Republic, which has a long history of chaos and coups, is in a state of near-anarchy. In March, a coalition of rebel groups joined forces to overthrow the president and put their leader in charge. The rebels have been blamed for abuses including widespread looting, killings, rapes and conscription of child soldiers.

The country, which borders some of the most tumultuous countries on the continent including Congo and Sudan, was one of the world’s poorest countries before the coup and conditions have worsened dramatically since then.

French President Francois Hollande, at the opening of last month’s ministerial meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, raised an “alarm” about Central African Republic, saying “chaos has now taken hold there and once again, civilians are its victims.”

Kristalina Georgieva, the European Union’s commissioner responsible for humanitarian aid, warned a meeting on the sidelines of the assembly that without international action Central African Republic could turn into “another Somalia.”

The draft resolution demands that all parties in the country, especially the rebel Seleka movement, ensure safe and unhindered access for humanitarian aid to the thousands in need throughout the country.

It asks the secretary-general to immediately provide U.N. experts to assist the African Union and the 10-nation Economic Community of Central African States, or ECCAS, in planning for the deployment of the AU force.

The draft demands that presidential and legislative elections take place 18 months after the start of the transition period.

It also recommends that the U.N. Mission in Central African Republic strengthen its field presence as security conditions permit.

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