Edith M. Lederer
France said Wednesday it is fed up with delays in implementing a 2015 peace agreement in Mali and is moving ahead to impose sanctions on spoilers obstructing the peace process.
French Ambassador Francois Delattre made the announcement at a U.N. Security Council meeting on Mali and received immediate support for sanctions from Britain, the United States, the Netherlands, Poland and Ethiopia.
Delattre said France will work with the supporters to identify the spoilers and submit their names to the council committee monitoring sanctions against Mali. The panel has the final say on imposing sanctions including travel bans and freezing assets.
Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the U.N. special envoy for Mali, told reporters later that sanctions could be imposed on members of the three parties to the 2015 agreement — the government, an alliance of Tuareg-led rebels called the Coordination of Movements of Azawad, and a pro-government militia known as the Platform.
He noted that before the Security Council approved a resolution last September creating the sanctions committee, Mali's government wrote to council members backing the move and saying it "would be prepared to be sanctioned."
Mali has been in turmoil since a 2012 uprising prompted mutinous soldiers to overthrow the president of a decade. The power vacuum that was created ultimately led to an Islamic insurgency and a French-led war that ousted the jihadists from power in 2013. But insurgents remain active in the region.
The Security Council in January threatened sanctions on any parties obstructing implementation of the 2015 peace deal, expressing "a shared sense of impatience" about persistent delays.
Delattre told the council Wednesday that "considerable delays and lack of implementation" prompted France to go further and work with supporters to identify those obstructing peace.
British Ambassador Karen Pierce said that "in view of the lack of progress," the United Kingdom now supports sanctions against the spoilers. Polish Ambassador Joanna Wronecka and Ethiopian Ambassador Tekeda Alemu also backed sanctions for those obstructing peace.
"We should not back down from imposing sanctions, in the face of opposition from those who are sabotaging the peace process, including the trafficking networks," said Ambassador Karel Van Oosterom of the Netherlands.
Amy Tachco, political co-ordinator for the U.S. Mission, said the Trump administration looks forward to identifying "spoilers who obstruct through collusion with transnational organized criminals or those who plan or conduct attacks, regardless of affiliation."
Annadif, the U.N. envoy, told the council that there have been "enhanced levels of trust between the signatories to the agreement" this year and other positive trends. But he also stressed that this is an election year in Mali, with the first round of presidential voting scheduled for July 29 and legislative elections envisioned for November and December.
"The Malian actors should not lose sight of the fact that implementation of the agreement despite the elections needs to remain a priority, and it must not become a political football," Annadif said.