[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] on Sunday condemned [press release; UN News Centre report] a coup by Central African Republic (CAR) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] Seleka rebels after they seized the country’s capital of Bangui, causing President Francois Bozize to flee the country. Ban appealed for calm and demanded the “swift restoration of constitutional order.” The fighting began on Friday after a January peace agreement collapsed [Reuters report]. Ban described the humanitarian situation as “dire” due to ongoing gun fire, looting and a lack of electricity and water. The UN estimates that there are 1.5 million people currently in the need of aid. In response to international criticism of the coup, the Seleka rebels pledged to create a power-sharing government, which they claim that Bozize had failed to do by not including Seleka fighters in the country’s military. The African Union [official website] also condemned the coup by the rebels and suspended [Reuters report] the CAR from the Union and imposed sanctions against the country.
The CAR has been at the center of the child soldier controversy. In January UNICEF [official website] said that it had received “credible reports” of both pro-government and rebel armed groups in the CAR recruiting and including children [JURIST report] in the country’s conflict. In June Ban issued a report detailing the violations committed against children [JURIST report] in conflict zones, including in the CAR. In July 2011 UN Security Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict [official website] expressed concern [JURIST report] about children’s rights violations, including rape and other sexual violence as well as recruitment in armed conflict, in the CAR.