UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council threatened sanctions Wednesday against parties in Mali who obstruct or delay the full implementation of a 2015 peace agreement.
A press statement agreed to by the 15 council nations expresses "a shared sense of impatience" about persistent delays in fulfilling the accord agreed to by Mali's government, Tuareg separatists and armed groups.
The council welcomed the timeline set by the parties at a meeting in Mali's capital Jan. 15-16 to implement the agreement by the end of March — and urged that it be fulfilled.
It warned that "actions taken that obstruct, or that obstruct by prolonged delay, or that threaten the implementation of the agreement, now constitute a basis for sanctions designations."
French Ambassador Francois Delattre told the council Tuesday that it France was ready to propose sanctions against "individuals responsible for blocking implementation of the accord."
Mali has been in turmoil since a 2012 uprising prompted mutinous soldiers to overthrow the country's 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 insurgents remain active in the region.
"It's urgent that we confront the fact that we're racing against time in Mali," U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix told the council Tuesday. "We are confronting increasing insecurity which has cost the lives, unfortunately, of hundreds of civilians in the north and center of the country as well as dozens of elements of defense forces" from Mali, the U.N. and France.
The Security Council stressed the importance of making "substantive progress" toward peace and delivering "visible peace dividends" to people in the restive north and elsewhere ahead of local and regional elections in April and presidential elections in mid-July.
Council members stressed the importance of progress on key provisions of the agreement including decentralization, establishing a regional territorial police force, putting government administrations in the north into full operation, and demobilizing and reintegrating combatants.
Mali's foreign minister, Tieman Hubert Coulibaly, told the council Tuesday that in 2018 the government is committed to completing the implementation of the peace agreement, containing "increasing insecurity in the center of the country," meeting demands "for urgent social needs," and "organizing credible, transparent and peaceful elections."