UN calls for Mali sanctions
By Bakari Guèye in Nouakchott for Magharebia – 13/08/12
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week asked UN Security Council members to take action regarding the "deeply troubling situation" in Mali.
"I encourage the Security Council to give serious consideration to the imposition of targeted travel and financial sanctions against individuals or groups in Mali engaged in terrorist, religious extremist or criminal activities," Ban said on Wednesday (August 8th).
In his opinion, "the situation in northern Mali remains unstable and unpredictable".
"Since the start of the crisis earlier this year, we have seen the situation take one alarming turn after another, reaching seemingly new depths with every passing week," Ban said. "These grave developments have brought enormous suffering to the people of Mali. They also pose a widening threat to international peace and security."
The UN chief was particularly concerned by reports of "serious human rights violations" committed by the rebels, such as "summary executions of civilians, rape and torture".
"In Bamako, limited progress had been made to restore constitutional order following the uprising on March 22nd," Ban said. "The coup d'état has accelerated the partition of Mali, whose transitional authorities, put in place after the withdrawal of the rebels from power, are unable to bring an end to the occupation of the north of the country."
Burkinabe Foreign Minister Djibrill Bassolé arrived in Gao on August 7th to hold talks with Islamist militants on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The minister "asked the leaders of Ansar al-Din, whom he met, to sever all links with terrorist movements before peace negotiations could begin", according to Ban.
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council acknowledged preparations by ECOWAS for the deployment of a pan-African force in Mali, but said they were waiting for clarifications, particularly from the Malian government.
The 15 member-states said they were waiting for detailed proposals concerning the objectives, resources and arrangements for the deployment.
They have therefore asked ECOWAS to get the Malian government to clarify its position on the deployment, to which Bamako must give its formal agreement. ECOWAS proposed sending a regional force of 3,300 men to help the Malian army re-take the north of the country from the hands of the Islamists, but is waiting for a UN mandate and external assistance, particularly logistical help, along with a formal request from Bamako.
In the meantime, Islamist group Ansar al-Din, which is in control of the north of Mali and is trying to enforce Sharia, hopes to conquer the south "without a fight", through persuasion, said spokesman Senda Ould Boumama.
"We hope we will manage to convince the people of that country to join us without a fight, so that all efforts can finally be turned on our shared enemy," he said on August 9th in an interview with a jihadist website.
The Islamist group affiliated with al-Qaeda said they would continue to expand their "authority" along "two fundamental axes": enforcing Islamic law and promoting the "interests of other jihadists in the world".
The Malian government stated on August 9th that "the violent acts committed by Islamists in the north of Mali have given added weight to the inevitable nature of the military option to win back this part of the territory, which makes up two thirds of the country."
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