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UN sacks Central African Republic mission chief

August 13, 2015

The string of allegations against UN peacekeepers in the country has included rape, assault and murder. UN Secretary General Ban K-moon declares "enough is enough" and says he is angered and ashamed by reports.

Senegal Senegalesische Soldaten
Image: Getty Images/Afp/Marco Longari

The head of a controversial UN mission in Central African Republic was fired from his post, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said late Wednesday.

The UN chief told reporters he asked Babacar Gaye to leave his post after multiple allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation by UN peacekeepers.

The move follows an Amnesty International report released Tuesday alleging that peacekeepers had killed a 16-year-old boy and his father without provocation and had forcibly raped a 12-year-old girl in separate incidents last week in the capital Bangui.

"I cannot put into words how anguished and angered and ashamed I am by recurrent reports over the years of sexual exploitation and abuse by UN forces," Ban told journalists in New York.

The 12,000-strong MINUSCA force is in Central African Republic to prevent clashes between Muslim and Christian communities. Gaye, 64, was appointed as its first chief last year and is also Ban's special envoy to the country.

Infografik UN Mission MINUSCA Englisch

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said 57 allegations of misconduct have been reported since MINUSCA began in April 2014, including 11 cases of possible sexual abuse, all of which are being investigated. He called the sacking of the mission head "unprecedented." But it is not the first high-level resignation from the beleagured mission.

Gaye, a 64-year-old Senegalese army general, told France 24 that he shared Ban's outrage and that his resignation "embodies the organization's response to behavior that is simply unacceptable from soldiers who come to defend people and protect them."

Security Council to hold special session

A special Security Council meeting will convene Thursday to discuss abuse by peacekeepers. Ban will also tell force commanders and envoys from all 16 missions by videoconference that allegations must be taken seriously.

The UN has no standing army of its own or powers of prosecution over its peacekeepers, relying on member states to police their own forces' behavior.

"Ultimate responsibility rests with governments who send their people," Ban said.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power backed Ban's call for member states to discipline their soldiers.

"Member states who contribute troops and police to UN missions must ensure that when their nationals are accused of such horrific crimes, their national legal systems swiftly investigate the allegations and hold perpetrators accountable," she said in a statement.

jar/gsw (AFP, Reuters)