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UN Council to vote first step to C.Africa Rep. force

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The UN Security Council will vote a resolution on Thursday that takes the first steps toward sending a peacekeeping force to end anarchy in Central African Republic, diplomats said.

Final details of the resolution were negotiated by the 15-member council on Tuesday amid reports of dozens more killed in clashes in the giant African state where rebels seized power this year.

The draft resolution, obtained by AFP, expressed deep concern at the "total breakdown of law and order" in Central African Republic since President Francois Bozize was overthrown in March.

The resolution stresses the need for the international community to "respond swiftly" to the growing military and humanitarian crisis.

It calls on Seleka coalition rebels to lay down their arms and for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to draw up a report in the next month on options to help a small African force already in the country, the International Support Mission in Central African Republic, or MISCA.

The council says the study should include "the possible option of a transformation of MISCA into a United Nations peacekeeping operation."

UN officials have confirmed to AFP, on condition of anonymity, that they are working on creating an official UN force in early 2014.

It will require at least one more Security Council resolution after the one to be voted Thursday, diplomats said.

In the meantime, the draft resolution, drawn up by France, calls on African countries "to provide timely and effective support to MISCA" which currently has only about 1,400 of the 3,600 troops allowed under its African Union mandate.

The poor but mineral-rich nation was plunged into chaos when a coalition of rebels and armed movements ousted longtime president Bozize and took the capital Bangui in March.

A Seleka chief Michel Djotodia became president but under a deal brokered by a regional group an interim government was to organize elections.

The government has lost control of the country however. Radical groups from other countries have poured in and France has stepped up warnings in recent weeks that it could become a failed state haven for terrorists.

The draft UN resolution expresses concern about rights violations and warns of possible "measures" to those who hinder peace efforts.

France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called for "urgent" action by the international community at the UN General Assembly two weeks ago.

France led efforts to halt an Islamist takeover in Mali but has urged African nations to take the lead in Central African Republic. Both are former French colonies.

There have been growing clashes between ex-rebels of the Seleka coalition, who are mainly Muslim, and local mainly Christian militia groups.

And some 1.6 million people -- one third of the population -- need humanitarian aid and nearly 300,000 are internally displaced or have fled to neighbouring countries, according to UN figures.

At least 30 people were killed and dozens injured in clashes Tuesday between Seleka fighters and self-defence groups in Garga, a village in the northwest of the country, a security source in Bangui told AFP earlier.

Seleka controlled Garga and the local militia began attacking the village.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131008/un-council-vote-first-step-cafrica-rep-force