New York City - The UN Security Council began consideration on
Thursday of a draft resolution by France that attempts to strengthen a
pan-African force in the Central African Republic.
The poor, landlocked nation plunged into chaos earlier this
year when a coalition of rebels and armed movements ousted president Francois
Bozize in March.
The International Support Mission for the Central African
Republic (MISCA), placed under the auspices of the African Union, has been
tasked with aiding the government during its transition.
But the 3 600-person force presently counts only 1 400
members among its ranks and lacks resources and funds.
Diplomats say the resolution, which France hopes to pass
next week, asks UN chief Ban Ki-moon for "detailed options for
international support to MISCA, including the possible option of a
transformation of MISCA into a United Nations peacekeeping operation".
The UN would follow the model used in Mali, where African
troops provided the backbone of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation
Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
The resolution also asks the UN to reinforce its current
mission, the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central
African Republic (BINUCA).
The resolution calls for "free, fair and transparent
presidential and legislative elections" and urges all parties including
the Seleka rebels behind Bozize's ouster, to allow for "safe and
unhindered access for the timely delivery of humanitarian aid".
It also calls for penalties "against those who take
action that undermines the peace, stability and security".
According to the UN and NGOs, rogue elements of Seleka have
committed serious abuses against civilians.
An international meeting on the Central African Republic
held last week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly resulted in some
financial commitments and brought attention to the country's "forgotten