France seeking UN sanctions against Mali peace spoilers

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - France said Thursday it would propose individual sanctions against leaders of armed groups accused of violating a 2015 peace accord in Mali.

"The progress made remains insufficient," France's deputy UN ambassador Anne Gueguen said, as the 15-member Security Council voted unanimously to extend a general sanctions framework for Mali.

Her British counterpart, Jonathan Allen, stressed, "We need to see progress from all parties."

Gueguen said France is proposing that mid-level leaders of armed groups who undermine the peace accord through criminal or terrorist activities be swiftly subjected to sanctions.

"Failure to respect the commitments freely undertaken by all Malian parties as part of the roadmap cannot remain without consequence," Gueguen warned in reference to the 2015 accord.

It was unclear whether Russia and China support such individual sanctions, however. Both had expressed reservations a year ago when the general sanctions regime was created at France's initiative.

In an August 8 report, UN experts singled out Alkassoum Ag Abdoulaye, chief of staff of the Coalition for the People of Azawad, accusing him of taking part in two attacks against Malian security forces, in 2017 and 2018.

The report also names another CPA leader, Mohamed Ousmane Ag Mohamedoune, as suspected of also violating the peace accord.

In their report, the experts recommended that the UN sanctions committee handling Mali "proceed without delay to consider the designation for targeted measures of individuals and entities engaging in or providing support for actions or policies that threaten the peace, security or stability of Mali."

The experts also pointed to "a worrying pattern of human rights violations" against civilians by Malian security forces during operations against extremists. Bamako has acknowledged faults.

In Mali, large areas are outside the control of Malian, French or UN forces, which have been targeted repeatedly in deadly attacks despite a peace agreement with predominantly Tuareg rebels, aimed at isolating jihadist militants.

In recent years, the attacks have extended to central and southern Mali as well as neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.