Ban slams rebel seizure of power in CAR

New York – The UN chief Ban Ki-moon condemned what he called "the unconstitutional seizure of power" by rebels in the Central African Republic in a statement late on Sunday.

"The Secretary-General condemns the unconstitutional seizure of power that took place in the Central African Republic (CAR) on 24 March 2013 and calls for the swift restoration of constitutional order," the UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky said in a statement.

Ban was "deeply concerned" by reports of violations of human rights and "underscores that those who are responsible for committing such violations will be held accountable."

The statement came after Central African rebels seized control of the capital Bangui, forcing president Francois Bozize to flee.

Rebel fighters resumed hostilities last week, after they accused Bozize of reneging on the terms of the latest peace deal.

The rebels moved into the capital overnight on Saturday, and on Sunday clashed with South African troops stationed there.

Armed men roamed the city, looting homes, shops, restaurants and offices - including the premises of the UN children's agency Unicef.

"The Secretary-General appeals for calm and for the respect of the rule of law in the CAR," Nesirky said. "He is concerned by the dire humanitarian situation in the country and the reports of ongoing looting in the capital, Bangui, including of United Nations property."

The United Nations was taking all precautions to protect its staff and would continue to work closely with its partners to help resolve the crisis, he added.

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