Washington, Dec 11 (IBNS) A United Nations senior official on Monday condemned all violations of a 2008 peace agreement which helped bring a degree of stability to the Central African Republic (CAR), and urged the peaceful resolution of any disputes there.
"The United Nations will not tolerate that civilians be taken hostage by groups or individuals - perpetrators of human rights violations will be held personally accountable for their crimes," the Secretary-General's Special Representative and Head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the CAR (BINUCA), Margaret Vogt, said in a news release issued by her office in the wake of an African Union (AU) meeting.
On 6 December, the AU's Peace and Security Council met on the situation in the CAR, at which they acknowledged "encouraging progress" made in the central African nation recently.
CAR has a history of political instability and recurring armed conflict. State authority is weak in many parts of the country, which are largely controlled by rebel groups and criminal armed groups, according to the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA).
Coupled with ethnic tensions in the north, frequent armed incursions by rebel elements from neighbouring countries and the presence of members of the armed Ugandan group known as the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), have added to insecurity and instability in CAR, which also has 170,000 people displaced internally.
Signed in June 2008, the so-called Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement helped bring an end to conflicts inside CAR, with BONUCA playing a key role in encouraging the signing of the pact between the Government and three main rebel groups, as well as the holding in December that same year of the Inclusive Political Dialogue between the Government, rebel groups, the political opposition, civil society and other relevant stakeholders.
Amongst other things, the Dialogue called for the creation of a government of national unity; the creation of a national human rights commission; and the launch of a programme for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of former combatants.
In the face of persistent challenges to peace - including recurring flare-ups of violence in the eastern part of the country and the slow pace in the implementation of the DDR programme -
BINUCA is currently focused on encouraging implementation of the various agreements and commitments.
According to the news release, Ms. Vogt took particular note of the AU body's communique' following the meeting, in which it "warns all those bent on undermining the process of consolidating peace, security and stability in CAR, and stresses that they will be held accountable."
The communique' also requested "the (African Union's) Commission to submit to it recommendations on sanctions against political and military groups and other elements that are hindering efforts to restore security and are involved in abuses against the civilian population and other violations of international humanitarian law."
BINUCA noted that Ms. Vogt reaffirmed the commitment of the United Nations, especially that of the Security Council, to the implementation of peace agreements, in particular the 2008 peace deal which remains the legal basis for discussion.
"She urges the signatories to opt for the resolution of disputes by peaceful means," BINUCA added in the news release. "The United Nations continues to monitor the situation in the CAR, and reaffirms its commitment to work closely with national and international partners of the CAR for the consolidation of peace in the country."