March 20, 2013 / 1:37 PM / 5 years ago

U.N. Security Council to discuss CAR at France's request

PARIS (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council will meet on Wednesday to discuss France’s concerns about a fragile ceasefire in the Central African Republic, the French foreign ministry said.

Rebels in the former French colony detained five ministers in the government earlier this week and threatened to break the January ceasefire unless prisoners were freed and other demands met.

The insurgents came close to capturing the capital, Bangui, and overthrowing President Francois Bozize late last year before accepting the peace deal under which some of their leaders joined the central government.

But increasingly bitter rhetoric from both sides is threatening to pitch the mineral-rich but impoverished, landlocked country back into conflict.

“France remains concerned by the evolution of the situation in the Central African Republic,” Foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot said in a daily briefing. “At our request, the U.N. Security Council will hold consultations today on the situation in CAR.”

Paris increased its troops in CAR to 600 in December to protect its citizens.

The United States said on Sunday it was concerned about CAR’s worsening security and urged all sides to implement the ceasefire. Lalliot echoed those calls.

“We are pushing all parties to refrain from all military options which would only worsen the security and humanitarian situation in CAR,” he said.

Rebels last week seized two eastern towns, threatening to resume the insurgency if their demands were disregarded.

They previously insisted that Bozize’s resignation was a precondition for peace and that the president, who seized power in a Chadian-backed 2003 coup, should stand trial at the International Criminal Court.

CAR remains among the least developed countries in the world despite rich deposits of gold, diamonds and uranium.

Reporting By John Irish; Editing by Erica Billingham

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