UN sanctions two C Africans for leading armed groups

United Nations: The UN Security Council has sanctioned two Central African Republic militia leaders following an outbreak of violence during a constitutional reform vote in that country.

In the Sunday ballot, voters overwhelmingly approved changes to the constitution aimed at ending years of sectarian strife. Voting however was marred by violence from armed factions opposed to the vote, in a country that was plunged into conflict after a mainly Muslim rebellion overthrew in 2013 the longtime Christian leader, Francois Bozize.

Five people were killed and 20 injured in an attack with rocket launchers and machine guns in the flashpoint Muslim-majority PK-5 district of Bangui. Officials blamed the violence on a faction of the Muslim ex Seleka rebellion that overthrew Bozize.

UN officials yesterday sanctioned Haroun Gaye, head of the Popular Front for the Rebirth of Central Africa, “a marginalized ex-Seleka armed group in Bangui.” Gaye also leads the PK-5 Defense Committee. The Security Council also sanctioned Eugene Barret Ngaikosset, a former captain in the guard of former president Bozize.

Christian militias are known as “anti-balaka” (anti-machete), and Ngaikosset, who “is associated with the anti-balaka movement… created his own anti-balaka faction” after escaping from prison in May, the UN said. The sanctions include travel bans and a freeze on assets. Several other leading anti-balaka and Seleka militants have been sanctioned since the beginning of the crisis in Central Africa.

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