France at UN threatens more sanctions on Mali
France on Wednesday threatened to push for more targeted sanctions to be imposed on Mali after hearing a UN official report on worsening violence in the West African country.
The Security Council last month put three individuals linked to armed groups on a UN sanctions blacklist, the first Malian nationals to be hit by a global travel ban and assets freeze.
The sanctions were imposed for hindering a peace agreement signed in 2015 by the Bamako government and armed groups that is aimed at restoring stability to Mali following a brief Islamist takeover in the north.
The peace deal has failed to stop violence by Islamist militants, who have also staged attacks in Burkina Faso, Niger and against UN peacekeepers.
French Ambassador Francois Delattre told a council meeting that his government was "ready to propose the adoption of new (sanctions) designations when the time comes if the expectations of this council are not met."
The United States renewed its warning that it will push for changes to the peacekeeping mission in Mali, possibly a major drawdown, if there is no progress.
UN peacekeeping official Bintou Keita told the council that the security situation in central Mali had worsened with a spike in intercommunal violence, stoked by extremists groups.
An attack on the Fulani community on January 1 left 37 dead in the central Mopti region.
The worsening violence has led to "a dramatic increase in displaced persons by 75 per cent in December 2018, compared with June 2018," said Keita.
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, however, warned that fresh sanctions will "hardly contribute" to strengthening the peace process.
More than 13,000 peacekeepers are deployed in Mali as part of a UN mission that was established after Islamist militias seized northern Mali in 2012. They were pushed backed by French troops in 2013.
The council is planning a possible visit to Mali in March to take stock of failures in implementing the peace deal and consider next steps.