France has taken the first steps in targeting people and groups undermining a peace deal in the central African country. Mali has witnessed growing unrest, with militant groups targeting UN peacekeepers.
France is set to push forward with a blacklist targeting groups that undermine a peace deal in Mali amid growing violence in the central African country, the country’s ambassador to the United Nations said on Wednesday.
Last week two peacekeepers were killed and 10 others wounded during an attack on the UN mission’s northeastern camp. Since the mission began in 2013, more than 150 peacekeepers have been killed in action, making it one of the UN’s most dangerous deployments.
“We cannot wait any longer,” said Francois Delattre, the French ambassador to the UN. “France will, together with its partners, in the coming weeks … begin work to identify those who obstruct the implementation of the peace agreement.”
France is a key guarantor of the 2015 peace deal between the government and several militias, partly because of its role in leading a military intervention aimed at uprooting Islamist groups operating in the country, including al-Qaeda’s North African branch.
People targeted by the UN Security Council sanctions will be subjected to a global travel ban or asset freeze. The 15-member body established the sanctions regime for Mali last year in a bid to bolster the peace deal.
The sanctions regime specifically targets groups or people violating the peace deal, blocking the delivery of aid, recruiting child soldiers or committing human rights abuses. However, no person or group has yet to be put on the blacklist.
France’s efforts come at a time when Mali is witnessing an escalation of violence. UN special envoy for Mali, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, told the council that the situation has become worse since last year, posing a major obstacle to a presidential election slated for July and August.
A UN expert report provided to the UN Security Council last month warned that insecurity in Mali “continues to rage,” with the conflict spilling into neighboring countries.
It noted that an armed pro-government coalition and a rebel alliance, both of which signed the peace deal, are seeing “progressive decline of their influence in areas traditionally under their indirect or direct control.”
More than 13,000 peacekeepers have been deployed as part of the UN mission. Roughly 875 German soldiers form part of the peacekeeping force, part of which focuses on intelligence gathering.
The German government last month signaled its desire to bolster its Mali deployment and support France’s counterterrorism operations in the greater Sahel region.
ls/aw (Reuters, AFP, AP)