Thu. Jan 27th, 2022

Russia and China have prevented the United Nations Security Council from backing a decision by the West African economic bloc ECOWAS to impose new sanctions on Mali, after proposing military leaders. stay in power for up to five years before the election.

A French draft council endorsing the sanctions could not be approved in closed-door consultations on Tuesday, forcing three African councilors – Kenya, Ghana and Gabon – to speak to reporters in support of the regional bloc’s position. .

Kenya’s ambassador to the UN, Martin Kimani, said he was “disappointed” that the council could not agree on what he called a “relatively soft” press release and expressed support for the “imposition of sanctions against the military authorities in Mali to ensure accelerated transition to constitutional rule ”.

On Sunday, leaders of the Economic Community of West African States most trades suspended and financial aid to Mali, land and air borders concluded “with the states concerned” and activated the bloc’s assistance force, saying it “will have to be ready for any contingency”.

The move came after Mali’s interim government last month proposed to stay in power for up to five years before elections are held, despite international demands that it respect a promise to hold elections on February 27 this year.

France, Mali’s former colonial power, which also holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, and the United States, have underlined their support for the ECOWAS sanctions.

“We are in full solidarity with the region and with this very courageous and clear position” by ECOWAS, French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters on Tuesday.

Washington also supported the “strong action” by the 15-member bloc and encouraged the Mali regime to keep its promise to return to democracy.

“A five-year transition is not in their interest and prolongs the pain of the people,” U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said at a Security Council meeting.

The Algerian presidency, which shares a long border with Mali, also called on the military to negotiate with ECOWAS and “reach a plan to end the crisis, taking into account international demands and the legal demands. of the Malian people “.

Support for Mali’s military government

Chinese Ambassador Dai Bing noted that Mali is in the midst of a critical transition period and said outside forces should refrain from exerting excessive pressure on the West African country.

With knowledge of recent measures by ECOWAS, as well as the response of the transitional authorities, he encouraged both sides to strengthen dialogue and resolve regional issues.

Russia has rejected the proposed council statement as unbalanced and expressed sympathy with the government.

“We understand and are aware of the difficulties the Malian authorities have encountered in preparing for general elections,” said Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia.

“We agree with the fact that in the absence of restoration of government control in many parts, regions of the country, it will be difficult to consider the vote as legal.”

French Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere condemns his country’s deployment of Russia’s mercenaries Wagner Group, which he said “is known to threaten civilians, plunder resources, violate international law and the sovereignty of states”.

He lamented that Mali’s transitional authorities “already use limited public funds to pay foreign mercenaries instead of supporting national forces and public services for the benefit of the Malian people”.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denied that the Russian government was involved, saying the company had a “legal” right to be in the West African nation because it had been invited by the transitional government.

Mali’s UN Ambassador Issa Konfourou told the Security Council that there were no mercenaries on Malian soil. He said Russian trainers were in Mali to advise and train his army on the use of military equipment obtained by the Russian government.

Konfourou said his government was “shocked” by ECOWAS ‘economic and financial sanctions and “strongly condemned these illegal and illegal” measures.

In a address to the nation military leader Colonel Assimi Goita on Monday called the sanctions “inhumane”, while also saying Mali remains open to dialogue.

Goita led a coup in August 2020 that overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Under threats of sanctions after the coup, he promised to hold presidential and legislative elections and to restore civilian rule by February 2022.

But he carried out a de facto second coup in May 2021, which forced an interim civilian government and disrupted the roster to restore democracy.

Goita declared himself interim president and in December his government proposed to stay in power for up to an additional five years.

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