United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and members of the Security Council, expressing strong concern over reports of armed groups advancing toward Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), today urged all parties in the troubled country to immediately cease hostilities.
The 15 Council members "condemned all attempts to undermine the stability of the Central African Republic," according to a statement issued to the press.
Fighting flared up again in CAR in December 2012 when the Séléka rebel coalition launched a series of attacks. The fighters took control of major towns and were advancing on Bangui, before agreeing to start peace talks under the auspices of the regional group known as the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
A peace agreement was reached on 11 January in Libreville, Gabon, resulting in a ceasefire agreement and creating a government of national unity in which opposition figures were given key posts, but the rebels claim the Government is failing to live up to its commitments. The rebels have resumed their attacks, and have overrun a wide swathe of the country's territory.
In today's statement, the Council recalled its statement of 20 March stressing the need for all parties to the 11 January agreements to fully implement their commitments.
The Council called on all parties to refrain from any acts of violence against civilians, allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access, and to fully respect human rights and international humanitarian law, he added.
"Those responsible for violations and abuses of international humanitarian and human rights law, including those involving violence against civilians, torture, summary executions, sexual and gender based violence and recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, must be held accountable," it stated.
Council members recalled that such violations of international humanitarian law may amount to crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), to which CAR is a State party.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, urging the Séléka movement to immediately halt its military offensive and all parties to abide by the 11 January Agreements, the Secretary-General pledged the UN's continued support to action by ECCAS and others to ensure that the parties resolve the current crisis peacefully.
"The Secretary-General reiterates his firm conviction that resorting to violence and military means will only lead to more suffering and instability and will further complicate efforts to reach a political solution," the spokesperson said.
"He intends to talk to regional leaders to urge them to do all they can to stop the fighting and commit the parties to implement the Libreville Agreements without further delay," he added.