UN begins discussion on C. Africa draft resolution

The UN Security Council began consideration Thursday of a draft resolution by France that attempts to strengthen a pan-African force in the Central African Republic.

The poor, landlocked nation plunged into chaos earlier this year when a coalition of rebels and armed movements ousted president Francois Bozize in March.

The International Support Mission for the Central African Republic (MISCA), placed under the auspices of the African Union, has been tasked with aiding the government during its transition.

But the 3,600-person force presently counts only 1,400 members among its ranks and lacks resources and funds.

Diplomats say the resolution, which France hopes to pass next week, asks UN chief Ban Ki-moon for "detailed options for international support to MISCA, including the possible option of a transformation of MISCA into a United Nations peacekeeping operation."

The UN would follow the model used in Mali, where African troops provided the backbone of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

The resolution also asks the UN to reinforce its current mission, the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA).

The resolution calls for "free, fair and transparent presidential and legislative elections" and urges all parties including the Seleka rebels behind Bozize's ouster, to allow for "safe and unhindered access for the timely delivery of humanitarian aid."

It also calls for penalties "against those who take action that undermines the peace, stability and security."

According to the UN and NGOs, rogue elements of Seleka have committed serious abuses against civilians.

An international meeting on the Central African Republic held last week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly resulted in some financial commitments and brought attention to the country's "forgotten crisis."