US urges C. Africa rebels to restore law and order

The United States expressed deep concern Sunday over "widespread reports of human rights abuses" in the capital of the Central African Republic and urged rebel forces to restore law and order.

The Seleka rebel coalition seized Bangui as a well-placed source told AFP that President Francois Bozize had left the country in a helicopter, after the collapse of a two-month-old truce deal backed by regional powers.

"We urgently call on the Seleka leadership which has taken control of Bangui to establish law and order in the city and to restore basic services of electricity and water," US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

"We strongly urge the Seleka leadership to recognize the continued legitimacy of the Libreville Agreement, ensure its implementation and provide full support to Prime Minister (Nicolas) Tiangaye and his government."

Tiangaye was named prime minister in January to head an interim government to arrange new parliamentary elections, following the truce deal.

Nuland said that Washington still expected all parties to the agreement to respect the accord, despite the renewed fighting.

"The United States urgently calls on all parties to ensure that their forces respect the human rights of the Central African people and other individuals in CAR," her statement said.

"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 fighters."