Central African Republic Boosts Patrols as UN Appeals for Calm

The Central African Republic boosted patrols in the capital, Bangui, to halt looting that erupted after a coup last month, as the United Nations urged action to halt human-rights violations.

The situation was calm after more security forces were deployed in Bangui, government spokesman Crepin Mboli Goumba said by phone today. More than 20 people were killed in the city over the weekend, including four who died when a church they were in was struck by an artillery shell, the United Nations human rights agency said today.

“Because of the precarious security situation, we have asked friendly countries to provide reinforcements,” Goumba said. About 1,000 members of a multinational regional force are expected to be deployed in the city, he said, without providing a timeframe.

President Francois Bozize’s government was removed from office on March 24 by a group of rebel forces known as Seleka. The country has been plagued by violence since independence from France in 1960. At least four battles for Bangui took place from 1996 until 2003, when Bozize toppled predecessor Ange-Felix Patasse, whom he served as army chief.

At least 119 people have died in violence since the government fell, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement e-mailed from Geneva today. Rights violations including assassinations, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture and the recruitment of child soldiers have taken place, she said.

‘Extremely Worrying’

“The situation on the ground is extremely worrying,” Pillay said. “The current state of lawlessness, verging on anarchy, must not be allowed to continue.”

At least 37,000 people have fled fighting in the country, with “tens of thousands” more forced to flee their homes, according to the UN.

Seleka is led by Michel Djotodia, who was named as president by a transitional council on April 13, according to Deutsche Press-Agentur. Djotodia, who was the country’s defense minister in a unity government, has promised elections within three years. He faces sanctions by the African Union, which has refused to accept his takeover of power.

Seleka began its rebellion in December after accusing Bozize of failing to honor a 2008 peace accord. An agreement signed in Libreville in January ended the fighting and created the unity government. The insurgents resumed combat in March, saying Bozize had failed to meet a new set of demands.

Pangea Diamondfields Inc., an Isle of Man-based exploration company, owns a concession in Central African Republic that is currently on care and maintenance, according to the company’s website. Standard Bank Group Ltd., Africa’s biggest lender, ended talks with Axmin Inc., a Canadian gold explorer, over a $100 million loan to help finance a gold mine there, the Johannesburg-based Financial Mail magazine reported on April 10.

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