The UN Security Council has announced it is ready to apply new sanctions on those responsible for the latest surge of violence in Central African Republic (CAR), marred by widespread violence committed by militant groups.
CAR descended into chaos in 2013 after former leader Francois Bozize was overthrown during a coup. As a result of the political unrest, Muslim Seleka and Christian anti-Balaka militias engaged in tit-for-tat violence that has killed thousands of people and prompted hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.
In the latest episode of violence in September, some 61 people were killed in Bangui in retaliation to the killing of a Muslim motorcycle taxi driver. Weeks after the attacks, anti-Balaka members kidnapped CAR's National Transitional Council vice president Léa Koyassoum Doumta, and released her only after hours of negotiations.
The UN said it intends to expand the sanction list – currently being drafted with the help of France – to add "those responsible for the recent outbreak of violence," AFP reported.
This would be the third round of sanctions. The previous two targeted, among others, Belgian diamond firm Badica/Kardiam, accused of providing support to rebels, and anti-Balaka militia leader Alfred Yekatom, known as Colonel Rambo.
Both warring sides have been accused of committing war crimes and recruiting child soldiers, with the UN estimating at least 10,000 children have been used as soldiers since the conflict erupted. A UN-brokered deal in May resulted in the release of hundreds of children used as child soldiers or sex slaves, but NGOs fear many more are still used in fighting.
An investigation on war crimes by the International Criminal Court is ongoing while interim president Catherine Samba-Panza announced that presidential election, originally scheduled to be held in October, had been postponed.