WASHINGTON, March 17 The United States is
concerned about worsening security in war-torn Central African
Republic and urged all sides to implement January's ceasefire
deal, the State Department said on Sunday.
The rebel Seleka coalition and President Francois Bozize's
government signed a ceasefire agreement in Libreville, Gabon, in
January to end an insurgency that swept to within striking
distance of the capital Bangui.
The deal also included forming a government of national
unity, but the rebels did not take up key posts in that
government in February, waiting for Bozize to free political
prisoners and the withdrawal of most foreign forces brought in
to shore up the army during the uprising.
Early this month, Seleka, a grouping of five rebel
movements, seized the key south-eastern town of Bangassou.
"We call on President (Francois) Bozize and the leadership
of the Seleka alliance to cease hostilities immediately, and
implement the provisions of the Libreville Agreement," State
Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.
"We are very concerned by the worsening humanitarian
situation in CAR and credible, widespread reports of human
rights abuses by both national security forces and Seleka
Nuland said the United States urged the Economic Community
of Central African States to urgently convene a mediation
committee, in line with the Libreville Agreement, to support the
national unity government and help restore peace and security.
"The United States urgently calls on the Seleka leadership
and on the CAR government to ensure that their forces respect
the human rights of the Central African people. Perpetrators of
such abuses must be held accountable."
Central African Republic is one of a number of countries in
the region where U.S. Special Forces are helping local soldiers
hunt down the Lord's Resistance Army, an unrelated rebel group
that has killed thousands of civilians across four nations.
The country remains one of the least developed on the planet
despite rich deposits of gold, diamonds and uranium.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Philip Barbara)