Russia, China block UN support for ECOWAS sanctions against Mali | UN News

Russia and China block UN Security Council support for West African economic group ECOWAS decision to impose new sanctions on Mali after proposal from their military leaders in power Up to five years before elections are held.

A council statement drafted by France in support of sanctions failed to be ratified in closed-door consultations on Tuesday, prompting three African council members – Kenya, Ghana and Gabon – to speak to reporters in support of the regional bloc’s position.

Kenya’s ambassador to the United Nations, Martin Kimani, said he was “disappointed” that the Security Council could not agree on what he called a “relatively modest” press statement, and expressed support for “imposing sanctions on Mali’s military authorities to ensure Accelerate the transition to constitutional government”.

On Sunday, leaders from the Economic Community of West African States Suspend most business activities and financial aid to Mali, closing land and air borders “with the countries concerned” and activating the group’s stand-by force, saying it “must be prepared for any eventuality”.

The move comes after Mali’s interim government proposed last month to stay in power for up to five years before holding elections, despite international calls for it to honour its promise to hold elections on February 27 this year.

Former colonial powers France and the United States, which hold the EU presidency of Mali, have both stressed their support for the ECOWAS sanctions.

French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters on Tuesday that “we fully support the region and support this very courageous and clear position of ECOWAS”.

Washington also backed “tough action” by the 15-member bloc and urged Mali’s regime to live up to its promises to restore democracy.

“The five-year transition period is not in their interest and will amplify the suffering of the people,” U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told a Security Council meeting.

The president of Algeria, which borders Mali, also called on the military to negotiate with ECOWAS and “to reach a plan to end the crisis, taking into account international needs and the legitimate demands of the Malian people”.

Support Mali’s military government

Dai Bing, the Chinese ambassador, noted that Mali is in a critical transition period and said external forces must avoid putting too much pressure on the West African country.

Noting the recent measures taken by ECOWAS and the response of the transitional authorities, he encouraged the two sides to strengthen dialogue and resolve regional issues.

Russia rejected the proposed Security Council statement, citing imbalances, and expressed sympathy for the government.

“We understand and recognize the difficulties faced by the Malian authorities in preparing for the election,” said Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia.

“We agree with the fact that it will be difficult for the vote to be considered legitimate if government control is not restored in many parts and regions of the country.”

French Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere reiterated France’s condemnation of the deployment of mercenaries from Russia. Wagner Group, he said “they are known to threaten civilians, plunder resources, violate international law and national sovereignty”.

He lamented that the Malian transitional authorities “used already limited public funds to pay foreign mercenaries instead of supporting the national army and public services for the benefit of the Malian people”.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov denied the Russian government was involved and said the company had a “legitimate” right to enter the West African country because it was invited by the transitional government.

Mali’s UN ambassador, Issa Konfourou, told the Council that there were no mercenaries on Mali’s soil. He said Russian trainers are advising and training the military in Mali on the use of military equipment the government has acquired from Russia.

Konfourou said his government was “appalled” by ECOWAS’s economic and financial sanctions and “strongly condemned these illegal and illegal” measures.

in a Address to the nation On Monday, military leader Col. Asimi Goita called the sanctions “inhumane” while also saying Mali remained open to dialogue.

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

Threatened with sanctions following the coup, he had promised to hold presidential and legislative elections and return to civilian rule by February 2022.

But he staged a de facto second coup in May 2021, forcing the interim civilian government from power and disrupting the timetable for a return to democracy.

Goita declared himself interim president, and in December his government proposed another five years in power.