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Obama imposes sanctions on former CAR leaders

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday imposed sanctions against the former Central African Republic leaders Francois Bozize and Michel Djotodia and three other officials, the White House said.

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama on Tuesday imposed sanctions against the former Central African Republic leaders Francois Bozize and Michel Djotodia and three other officials, the White House said.

The move comes on the heels of UN sanctions announced Friday by the Security Council -- against three of the same five men.

The sanctions aim to send "a powerful message that impunity will not be tolerated, and that those who threaten the stability of the CAR will face consequences," the White House said in a statement.

In addition to Bozize and Djotodia, Obama's order targets the leader of the anti-Balaka militia, Levy Yakete; the Seleka militia's number two Nourredine Adam; and Abdoulaye Miskine, also of the Seleka. All five see any assets in the US frozen.

The Security Council sanctions targeted Bozize, Yakete and Adam.

Obama has also put in place a framework for potentially wider sanctions, calling the situation in the Central African Republic a "threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States," in a letter to Congress about the measures.

"The United States continues to work with the international community, regional partners, and CAR's transitional authorities to help set the country on a path toward recovery," the White House statement said.

"We strongly support the African Union, French, and European Union forces who have been working to reestablish security for the people of the CAR, and the UN peacekeepers who will continue their heroic work," it added.

"We urge all parties to end the violence, to ensure justice and accountability for perpetrators of human rights abuses," it said.

"We stand with the courageous individuals who continue to call for peace and reconciliation."

Deeply impoverished Central Africa has been gripped by crisis since the mainly Muslim rebels of the Seleka alliance seized power from Bozize in a March 2013 coup led by Michael Djotodia.

Splinter groups of Seleka rebels went rogue, embarking on a campaign of killing, raping and looting.

Bozize "provided material and financial support to (anti-Balaka and former army officers) militiamen who are working to destabilize the ongoing transition and bring him back to power," the UN Sanctions Committee said Friday.

"Forces loyal to Bozize have become involved in reprisal attacks against CAR's Muslim population," it added.

Yakete was accused of having ordered the arrest of people with ties to the Seleka and of having organized the distribution of machetes to young, unemployed Christians to attack Muslims.

Adam, who headed the intelligence services under the new regime, was accused of arbitrary arrests, torture and summary executions.

Some 5,000 troops in the African MISCA force along with 2,000 French soldiers under a UN mandate have been deployed for months to help restore order and security in the country.

A small European Union force has also been operational since the end of April; it will number some 800 in June. 

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