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Central African Republic: UN Rights Office Warns of ‘Escalating Violence’ Ahead of Sunday Poll

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Central African Republic: UN Rights Office Warns of 'Escalating Violence' Ahead of Sunday Poll

Just days before elections in the Central African Republic (CAR), an uptick in armed violence is threatening the safety of civilians and their right to vote, according to the UN human rights office.

“We are deeply alarmed by reports of escalating violence stoked by political grievances and hate speech, resulting in the forced displacement of civilians, including to neighbouring countries”, Liz Throssell, a Geneva-based spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said in statement on Wednesday.

Instability in CAR dates back decades, and violence has displaced hundreds of thousands in the country, which despite immense natural mineral wealth, is one of the poorest in the world.

Civilian protection ‘paramount’

With elections gearing up for 27 December, Ms. Throssell said that there have been “numerous reports of attacks against security forces, political candidates and election officials”.

Reportedly, clashes between armed groups and security forces have taken place across a wide area, including neighbourhoods close to the capital, Bangui.

“The UN Human Rights Office joins UN Secretary-General António Guterres in calling for all parties in the Central African Republic to put an end to the violence”, she said.

The OHCHR spokesperson reminded all parties, “including security forces and armed groups, as well as international and foreign forces”, that “they are bound to respect international humanitarian law and human rights law as applicable”.

“The protection of civilians is paramount”, she spelled out.

The UN Deputy Special Representative and Humanitarian Coordinator for CAR, Denise Brown, pushed back on unfounded rumours that armed groups had been marching on the capital, in an interview with UN News on Monday, here:

Path to peace

The OHCHR official reminded the signatories to the political agreement of February 2019, which includes political actors and armed groups, to abide by their commitment to respect human rights and not resort to violence to resolve disputes.

And she said that neighbouring countries, the African Union, and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) have “a central role to play” in ensuring a peaceful resolution of the pre-election crisis and contributing towards protecting the civilian population of CAR.

Stamping out scaremongering

Earlier this week, the G5, which includes the World Bank, European Union (EU), United States and Russia, called for the immediate and unconditional end to “coordinated offensives” on the part of armed groups and agitators, and scaremongering that is threatening the electoral process.