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April 10, 2014

UN approves force for Central African Republic

(Continued)

UNITED NATIONS —

The Security Council wanted a strong mandate and the resolution authorizes the new U.N. force to protect civilians and support the disarmament of combatants and the restoration of peace and law and order. It also authorizes the mission to help investigate violations of human rights and humanitarian law by armed groups and arrest alleged perpetrators.

While U.N. peacekeepers and police will not take over until Sept. 15, the resolution immediately establishes the U.N. mission, to be known as MINUSCA. It will take over all activities of the U.N. political office, including supporting the country's political transition.

The resolution urges the transitional authorities to accelerate preparations for free and fair elections no later than February 2015.

With the establishment of MINUSCA, the African Union force on the ground will receive logistical support from the United Nations. Many of its members are likely to become part of the new U.N. force after being checked to ensure they meet U.N. standards.

Philippe Bolopion, United Nations director for Human Rights Watch, urged the U.N. and member states to make the U.N. force a reality on the ground quickly, "including by providing carefully vetted troops, so the U.N. mission itself does not become embroiled in any allegations of abuses."

"This resolution doesn't mean that the U.N. cavalry is going to roll in and save the day," he warned.

In the coming months before U.N. troops deploy, he urged all countries, especially the European Union and African Union, "to do everything in their power to bolster peacekeeping capacities on the ground, protect CAR's besieged Muslim minority, and contribute to the tragically underfunded humanitarian effort."

On the streets of the Central African Republic's capital, Bangui, there was a mixed reaction to the approval of a U.N. force.

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