Sun, Sep 03, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Moscow balks at sanctions regime proposal for Mali

AFP, UNITED NATIONS

Russia on Friday voiced reservations over a French proposal to set up a UN sanctions regime for Mali to punish those accused of obstructing a 2015 peace deal.

France last month circulated a draft resolution to the UN Security Council on establishing a committee tasked with setting up the UN blacklist as fears grow that the west African nation is sliding back into turmoil.

The move is backed by Mali’s government, which told the council in a letter early last month that repeated violations of a ceasefire since the beginning of June were threatening to derail the peace deal.

Russia, a veto-wielding council member, said the peace deal could collapse if the council endorses the request and sides with the Malian government, which is one of the parties to the peace deal.

“We are always against the sanctions regime, especially in this particular situation, when one of the parties to the agreement on peace and reconciliation asks for sanctions against the other two parties,” Russian Deputy Ambassador to the UN Petr Iliichev said.

“When one party asks for another [to be sanctioned], we can expect a collapse of this agreement,” Iliichev said.

Mali’s government and coalitions of armed groups signed a peace deal in June 2015 to end years of fighting in the north that culminated with a takeover of the territory by Muslim militants in 2012.

A French-led military intervention in January 2013 drove out the militants, but insurgents remain active, moving to the center where attacks and trafficking of drugs and weapons are on the rise.

The French-drafted resolution would set up a sanctions committee made up of all Security Council members who would designate individuals and entities to be blacklisted by the UN.

Those who are blacklisted would be subject to a global travel ban and an assets freeze.

However, a vote on the measure was not expected soon.

Iliichev said that the government in Bamako might be having second thoughts about the sanctions after a new ceasefire deal was reached on Aug. 23.

Ethiopian Ambassador to the UN Tekeda Alemu, who is council president this month, told a news conference that the measure was “delayed” because discussions were under way and no meeting was scheduled on the proposal this month.

Mali and four neighboring countries — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Niger — are working to set up a counterterrorism force to fight militants in the Sahel, which France has warned could become a haven for such groups.

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