U.N. chief condemns rebel seizure of power in Central African Republic

Reuters News

3/24/2013 10:56:46 PM - Reuters News

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday condemned the "unconstitutional seizure of power" in Central African Republic and demanded the restoration of constitutional order in the country.

"The Secretary-General is deeply concerned by reports of serious violations of human rights. He underscores that those who are responsible for committing such violations will be held accountable," the U.N. press office said in a statement.

Rebels in Central African Republic (CAR) seized the riverside capital Bangui in fierce fighting on Sunday, forcing President Francois Bozize to flee and sowing confusion over who rules the mineral-rich heart of Africa.

"The Secretary-General appeals for calm and for the respect of the rule of law in the CAR," it said. "He is concerned by the dire humanitarian situation in the country and the reports of ongoing looting in the capital, Bangui, including of United Nations property."

The statement added that United Nations was taking all precautions to protect its staff. It also reminded the authorities of their "obligations to ensure the safety of all United Nations personnel and premises."

The Seleka rebel coalition resumed hostilities on Thursday in the former French colony and quickly swept south to Bangui with the aim of ousting Bozize, whom it accused of breaking a January peace deal to integrate its fighters into the army.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Sandra Maler)