France proposes sanctions against Mali peace deal spoilers
By EDITH M. LEDERER
Aug. 31, 2018
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — France says it has proposed that members of armed groups in Mali who are delaying implementation of a 2015 peace agreement should be put on a U.N. sanctions blacklist.
France's deputy U.N. ambassador Anne Gueguen told the Security Council on Thursday that the time for warnings is over and France has submitted the names of individuals — whom she did not identify — to the U.N. Security Council committee set up last year to deal with Mali sanctions.
Gueguen said a new report by the committee's panel of experts "shed light in incontestable fashion" on some individuals associated with armed groups who are undermining the 2015 peace agreement "through their links with criminal or terrorist activity."
To date, there are no names on the Mali sanctions blacklist.
The panel said in the new report that it did not identify any individuals or entities deliberately obstructing the 2015 agreement.
Rather, the panel said it did identify individuals from armed groups that signed the peace deal and splinter groups involved in attacks against Malian security and armed forces and in organized crime who indirectly threaten implementation of the peace deal.
The three parties to the 2015 agreement were the government, a coalition of groups called the Coordination of Movements of Azawad or CMA which includes ethnic Arabs and Tuaregs who seek autonomy in northern Mali, and a pro-government militia known as the Platform.
The panel said in the report that it collected "credible information from several independent sources" indicating that a Malian armed forces defector, Alkassoum Ag Abdoulaye, who is the military commander of a rebel splinter group, participated in two attacks against a Malian armed forces camp near Soumpi on Oct. 24, 2017 and Jan. 27, 2018.
The experts also pointed to Mohamed Ousmane Ag Mohamedoune, a Tuareg, who after signing the 2015 peace agreement took leadership of a splinter group. He also engaged in politics in Timbuktu and "has been very active in delaying the implementation of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement in the Timbuktu and Gao regions," they said.
Mali has been in turmoil since a 2012 uprising by Tuaregs 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 extremists linked to both al-Qaida and the Islamic State group remain active and have been staging more brazen attacks that have spread from the north into central Mali.
The panel of experts said "terrorism and organized crime are the drivers of insecurity in northern and central Mali today, leading to a dire humanitarian situation" which is aggravated by intercommunal violence in some areas.
At the same time, they said, "anti-terrorist operations conducted by the Malian army in northern and central Mali, as well as by 'compliant' armed groups — those who are part of the Platform or CMA or have declared that they will observe the (peace) agreement — have led to civilian killings and amplified intercommunal violence."
France's Gueguen said if a roadmap adopted by the Malian parties several months ago to implement the 2015 agreement isn't adopted before the deadline "then action will be taken" against those obstructing it. France's U.N. Mission said the roadmap set a deadline of six months after newly re-elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is inaugurated on Sept. 4 — which would be March 4.
The panel of experts said that ahead of the first round of elections on July 29, the parties showed "renewed commitment to advance on several priority activities agreed in January and March" including the appointment of interim authorities "at the sub-regional level" and joint coordination bodies in Kidal and Timbuktu.
The council voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the panel of experts until Sept. 30, 2019.
It took note of the renewed commitment of the three parties to the 2015 agreement to its "expeditious implementation," welcoming recent positive steps while expressing "deep frustration" at stalling tactics and "impatience" over the persistent delays.