UN political chief urges rebels to establish order

AP News
Posted: Apr 22, 2013 6:13 PM

BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — The U.N. political chief on Monday urged rebel leaders who overthrew Central African Republic's government to establish law and order, protect civilians from attacks and control fighters under their command.

Jeffrey Feltman told reporters during a visit to the conflict-wracked nation that there must be an immediate end to the killings, looting, sexual violence and other human rights violations that have caused immense suffering and disrupted vital humanitarian aid to hundreds of thousands of civilians.

Rebel leader Michel Djotodia has declared himself president of a transitional council that plans for elections within 18 months, though critics say his government lacks control over its fighters in the streets. The rebels' ouster of President Francois Bozize in late March came two months after they signed a peace agreement in Libreville, Gabon, that would have let him serve until 2016.

The rebels, who belong to an alliance known as Seleka, have been accused of looting, violence and robberies since helping to overthrow the president.

While Feltman was in the capital, hundreds of rebels gathered in Bangui to press for their demands to be met by the new leader.

Nearly 400 rebels from the Seleka movement gathered near the Renaissance Palace in Bangui to demand that Djotodia pay them bonuses they say they were promised. Another hundred went to the luxury hotel where Djotodia is running the government.

Feltman said the authorities must move quickly to establish security.

He welcomed an announcement by the Economic Community of Central African States that it will increase the peacekeeping force it has in the Central African Republic, but said "more support may be needed."

Feltman also called for "a full return to constitutional order" and a transition in line with the Libreville agreement.

"Winner-take-all politics has caused grave harm in the past," he said. "A peaceful future will require dialogue and compromise between Central Africans."

Feltman said the international community must also remain focused on the Central African Republic, noting that the U.N. humanitarian appeal for the impoverished nations is only 20 percent funded.

"The Central African Republic cannot continue to be the 'forgotten crisis' that emerges briefly on the international radar screen and then slips back into oblivion until the next tragic flare-up," he said.

Feltman spoke following a day of meetings in Bangui with representatives of political parties and civil society. He met with Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye in Douala, Cameroon on Saturday.


Associated Press Writer Edith M. Lederer contributed to this report from the United Nations