CAR risks return to civil war, rights expert warns

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An upsurge in violence in recent days has left forced tens of thousands of people from their homes, in the Central African Republic. UN Photo/Catianne Tijerina

The next three months in the Central African Republic will be critical to the country's future amid rising violence there, a top UN Human Rights Council investigator said Wednesday.

Special Rapporteur Therese Keita Boucoum said that the country's transition government is pushing ahead with elections, but that armed groups threaten to bring about civil war instead.

Her comments follow the sudden eruption of violence in the Central African Republic's capital, Bangui, at the weekend, which left more than 30 people dead and some 100 wounded.

Daniel Johnson has more.

The prospect of a return to civil war is now very real in the Central African Republic, according to Special Rapporteur Therese Keita Boucoum.

She told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that elections are vital for a return to constitutional order after years of violence, but that armed groups now threaten peace.

The human rights investigator was referring to clashes in the CAR capital Bangui that followed the murder of a Muslim taxi driver at the weekend.

Thirty people died and 10,000 were displaced in 48 hours, Therese Boucoum said, before adding that a mass prison break in Bangui – and in the westerly town of Bouar – also threaten the fragile status quo.

"I fear that if the violence isn't contained, targeted attacks on ethnic and religious bases will continue and it will lead to a civil war."

Representing the Central African Republic's transition government, Ambassador Leopold Samba told the UN assembly that inter-ethnic clashes, murder, rape and pillaging have been taking place.

Samba also reminded the Human Rights Council that the UN special investigator had rung the "alarm bell" before on abuses in the country, while those responsible for what he called "murderous crimes" were still free.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1'21"


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