United Nations (United States) (AFP) – France will lead a push at the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on parties in Mali blocking efforts to turn a three-year-old peace agreement into reality on the ground, the French ambassador said Wednesday.
Britain and the United States said they backed targeted sanctions as violence continues to engulf the West African country and signatories of a 2015 peace deal fail to deliver on their promises.
“We cannot wait any longer,” French Ambassador Francois Delattre told a council meeting on Mali.
“France will together with its partners, in the coming weeks… begin work to identify those who obstruct the implementation of the peace agreement.”
Last year, the council set up a sanctions regime for Mali that would allow the blacklisting of individuals and entities, which would be hit by a global travel ban and an assets freeze.
The list to be agreed by the council would be the first targeted sanctions imposed on Mali.
Mali’s government signed a peace agreement with coalitions of armed groups in June 2015 to end the fighting, but insurgents remain active, including in central Mali.
UN envoy Mahamat Saleh Annadif told the council that the security situation was worsening as the country heads toward a presidential election in July and August.
Seven UN peacekeepers have been killed in attacks in Mali this year alone, serving in a mission that has been described as the UN’s most dangerous.
The United Nations has deployed 13,000 troops and police in Mali, many of whom are deployed in the lawless north of the country.
Islamist extremists linked to Al-Qaeda took control of the desert north of Mali in early 2012, but were largely driven out in a French-led military operation launched in January 2013.
A UN panel of experts warned in a report to the council last month that insecurity “continues to rage” in Mali despite diplomatic efforts.
Human, drug and arms trafficking remain rife, and despite the 2015 deal, “the humanitarian situation in the north and center of the country remains volatile, unstable and a marked deterioration persists,” said the report, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.
The ongoing crisis in Mali led to the creation of the multinational G5-Sahel force to respond to what the report described as “intensified terrorist threats of the ISGS (Islamic State in the Greater Sahara) and Ansar al-Islam.”