UN to vote on Mali sanctions regime


The UN Security Council will vote Tuesday on a draft resolution presented by France that would set up a sanctions regime for Mali, the council's Ethiopian presidency said Saturday.

The move is backed by Mali's government, which earlier told the council that repeated ceasefire violations by jihadists threatened to derail a 2015 peace agreement ending years of fighting with the insurgents in the north.

Islamist jihadists took over territory in northern Mali in 2012, but were driven out by a French-led military intervention in January 2013.

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.

France last month circulated the proposed resolution on establishing a committee tasked with setting up the UN sanctions blacklist, as fears grow that the West African country is sliding back into turmoil.

Russia, a veto-wielding council member, had expressed reservations about the proposal.

"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," said Russian Deputy Ambassador Petr Iliichev on Friday.

"When one party asks for another (to be sanctioned), we can expect a collapse of this agreement," he added.

- Mali sanctions blacklist -

Ethiopia, which holds the council presidency this month, scheduled the vote for 10 am (1400 GMT) on Tuesday, at France's request.

Diplomats said they expected the measure to be adopted following talks with the Bamako government.

The resolution would set up a sanctions committee made up of all Security Council members to designate individuals and entities the United Nations would blacklist.

Those on the list would be subject to a global travel ban and an assets freeze.

No names have been submitted, but the draft text states that those who obstruct or delay the peace agreement implementation, block aid deliveries, or attack UN peacekeepers can be blacklisted.

Insurgents have repeatedly attacked the UN peacekeeping force in Mali, which is considered the world's most dangerous UN mission.

Four armed groups active in Mali are already on a separate UN sanctions blacklist for their ties to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Mali and four neighboring countries -- Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Niger -- are organizing a counterterrorism force to fight jihadists in the Sahel, a region France has warned could become a haven for extremists.

In the latest attack to shake the region, gunmen opened fire on a restaurant in the Burkina Faso capital of Ouagadougou on August 14, killing 19 people including several foreigners.

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