The African Union has backed a UN inquiry call for the Security Council to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by both sides of the conflict in the Central African Republic.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Mull Sebujja Katende, Uganda's Ambassador to the AU and this month's chair of the African Union Peace and Security Council, said the organisation backed the inquiry's call for accountability, adding that African peacekeepers in Central African Republic were looking out for "any people who abuse human rights."

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"A principle within the African Union is that whatever happens anywhere, there should be no killings of innocent
people. And that if that happens, whoever does it should be accountable. That is a very strong principle," Katende told reporters.

The preliminary report compiled by a commission of inquiry, found "that ample evidence exists to prove that individuals from both sides of the conflict perpetuated serious breaches of international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity as well as war crimes."

UN officials have warned that the conflict between Muslims and Christians could spiral into genocide, although the inquiry
said "it is premature to talk of an international armed conflict, of genocide or ethnic cleansing."

The commission was established in January by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the request of the Security
Council.

The Muslim-led Seleka rebels seized power in the Central African Republic more than a year ago, perpetrating abuses on
the majority Christian population that triggered waves of revenge attacks, leading to thousands of deaths and forcing
about a million people to flee their homes.

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The UN inquiry said it "prays the Security Council should consider the possibility of putting into place a jurisdiction which will
to start investigate and prepare the prosecution suspects of violations of human rights and international humanitarian laws
as well as war crimes who are already identifiable." 

The violence has continued in Central African Republic despite the presence of 2,000 French troops and some 5,600
African Union forces.

In April, the Security Council authorised a UN peacekeeping force of up to 10,000 troops and 1,800 police, which is due to assume authority in September.

"If the international community does not react with speed and determination by sending more peace keeping forces to CAR, we may soon face a situation which will rapidly deteriorate and bring about genocide and ethnic cleansing," the inquiry said.

Source: Agencies