UN imposes sanctions on Mali groups

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Malian army soldiers, pro-government militia members and former rebels, predominantly Tuaregs, take part in their first joint patrol in Gao in northern Mali on February 23, 2017.

JOHANNESBURG – Following a request from the Mali government, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has imposed sanctions, including a travel ban and assets freeze that will apply to individuals and entities engaged in actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, or stability of the conflict-torn African country.

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On 9 August, the government of Mali sent a letter to Egypt, Council President for that month, requesting the creation of a sanctions regime, citing repeated ceasefire violations by armed groups in northern Mali.

The imposition of sanctions on Tuesday follows UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemning an attack on a convoy of UN peacekeepers in Mali earlier in the day.

The attack in Kidal region on the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (Minusma) killed two peacekeepers and seriously injured two others.

The secretary-general warned that attacks against peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law.

In the sanctions resolution, adopted unanimously, the 15-member body decided to set up a Sanctions Committee, consisting of all the members of the council and requested the

Secretary-General to create, for an initial period of 13 months, a panel of up to five experts to support the committee’s work.

The 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali included language inviting the Security Council to adopt measures against those undermining the implementation of the agreement and the pursuit of its objectives.

As the attacks, by suspected Islamists, continue unabated, Minusma recently ordered staff and contractors to avoid using rural roads.

Over the last two years, northern Mali has faced numerous security challenges from the extremists as attacks with Al Qaeda affiliates also targeting Niger and the Ivory Coast.

Due to the growing security issues a regional anti-terror force, the G5 Sahel was established and recently deployed, drawing recruits from the armies of Mauritania, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger.

Prior to the force’s deployment, the government of Mali had asked repeatedly for foreign military help to re-take the restive north.

On 11 January 2013, the French military began operations against the Islamists while forces from other African Union states were deployed shortly after.

By 8 February, the Islamist-held territory had been retaken by the Malian military, with help from the international coalition.

Tuareg separatists have also continued to fight the Islamists as well, although they have also been accused of carrying out attacks against the Malian military.