The UN Security Council has unanimously passed a resolution calling for more support in the violence-wracked Central African Republic.

The resolution adopted on Thursday strongly backs a new African Union peacekeeping force in the country, and demands swift implementation of a political transition leading to free and fair elections in less that 18 months.

It also expresses the council's readiness to consider sanctions against those who fuel the violence.

"Your vote provides a glimmer of hope for the 4.6 million men, women and children in the CAR," the country's UN Ambassador Charles Armel Doubane told the council after the vote.

The resolution adopted by the 15-member council calls on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to submit a report within 30 days that would outline possible international support to a planned African Union peacekeeping mission to CAR known as MISCA.

Re-establishing authority

The resolution says Ban's report should include "detailed options for international support to MISCA, including the possible option of a transformation of MISCA into a United Nations peacekeeping operation, subject to appropriate conditions on the ground."

"Obviously the challenges are well beyond their means," French UN Ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters. "So the idea is the African force will be to provide robust support to the efforts of the central government to re-establish the authority of the state."

The council voiced serious concern at "violations of international humanitarian law and the widespread human rights violations and abuses, notably by Seleka elements," and demanded "that the Seleka elements and all other armed groups lay down their arms immediately."

"The UN has used its political might to bring attention to this issue that really has fallen off the radar. There's a dramatic need for paying attention to issues in CAR," Foreign Policy Analyst Emira Woods of the Institute for Policy Studies told Al Jazeera.

France, which intervened this year to oust rebels fighters from Mali, has been reluctant to get directly involved in the crisis. It has urged African nations and the African Union to do their utmost to resolve the crisis among themselves.

The landlocked, mineral-rich Central African Republic, or CAR, has slipped into chaos since northern Seleka rebels seized the capital, Bangui, and ousted President Francois Bozize in March. UN officials and rights groups say both sides may have committed war crimes.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies