By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS, May 9 (Reuters) - A United Nations Security Council committee on Friday imposed sanctions on Central African Republic's former President François Bozizé and two other men linked to the country's conflict after China and Russia withdrew their objections to the move.
It is the first time anyone linked to the crisis has been blacklisted since a U.N. sanctions regime for Central African Republic was set up in December.
Along with Bozize, who was ousted by predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels in March 2013, the committee blacklisted Nourredine Adam, an original leader of Seleka, and Levy Yakete, an "anti-balaka" Christian militia leader.
"U.N. Security Council adopts sanctions against François Bozizé, Nourredine Adam, Levy Yakete," Lithuania's U.N. Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaite posted on Twitter. Lithuania is chair of the council's sanctions committee on Central African Republic.
A travel ban and asset freeze have been imposed on all three men for "engaging in or providing support for acts that undermine the peace, stability or security of CAR," according to a letter to the sanctions committee.
The United Nations has warned the conflict in the former French colony could spiral into a genocide after abuses by Seleka rebels on the majority Christian population triggered waves of revenge attacks, leading to thousands of deaths.
China and Russia had raised last-minute objections to the designations last month, diplomats told Reuters. The 15-member Security Council sanctions committees work on the basis of unanimity.
"We have withdrawn our objections," a Chinese diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters on Friday. Russia has also agreed to blacklisting the three men, said U.N. diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity.
France and the United States had jointly proposed listing Bozizé, Adam and Yakete.
The proposal said Bozizé has been financing and supporting militiamen attempting to destabilize the situation in Central African Republic and bring him back to power. It said he encouraged a Dec. 5 attack on the capital Bangui by anti-balaka forces that led to worsening violence.
Fighting between Christians and Muslims has forced about 1 million people from their homes despite the presence of some 5,600 African Union peacekeepers and 2,000 French troops.
Human rights officials say parts of the landlocked country of 4.6 million have seen "religious cleansing."
The U.N. Security Council last month authorized the creation of a nearly 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic in a bid to end the violence. The U.N. operation is due to assume authority on Sept. 15 from the African Union force, which was deployed in December. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; , editing by G Crosse and Mohammad Zargham)
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