UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The U.N. Security Council extended the nearly 17,500-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in the troubled Central African Republican for a year on Monday, with Russia, China and Gabon abstaining.
The French-drafted resolution maintains the robust mandate of the mission, focusing on protecting civilians, and encourages President Faustin-Archange Touadera and his government to promote lasting peace and stability through a reinvigorated political and peace process.
The vote was 12-0 with the three abstentions.
The mineral-rich but impoverished Central African Republic has faced deadly intercommunal fighting since 2013, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power and forced President Francois Bozize from office. Mostly Christian militias later fought back, also targeting civilians in the streets. Untold thousands were killed, and most of the capital's Muslims fled in fear.
After the constitutional court rejected Bozize's candidacy to run for president in December 2020, President Touadera won a second term with 53% of the vote. But he continues to face opposition from a rebel coalition linked to Bozize.
The government controls the capital, but much of the country is controlled by armed groups.
The resolution adopted Monday urges all parties to respect the cease-fire, demands a halt to all attacks on civilians, and calls on CAR and neighboring countries to investigate transnational criminal networks and armed groups involved in arms trafficking and illegally exploiting natural resources.
It also urges CAR authorities to urgently implement a reconciliation process that addresses the root causes of the conflict, including the marginalization of civilians of specific communities, issues of national identity and local grievances.
Russia's U.N. Deputy Ambassador Anna Evstigneeva told the council Moscow abstained because the Central African Republic's views were not reflected in the resolution and Moscow can't accept that the resolution put the government and armed groups "on equal footing."
CAR's Foreign Minister Sylvie Valérie Baipo-Temon accused most states in the Security Council of acting as "both judge and jury" on her country. CAR is facing "an alarming humanitarian situation," she said, and the country needs a mandate to address the armed groups.