Just In: Russia, China Block U.N. Support For Sanctions on Mali

Russia and China have blocked the U.N. Security Council from supporting new sanctions on Mali over its military leaders´ decision to delay next month´s elections until 2026, a move many see as a blow to the restoration of democracy in the troubled West African nation.

After a closed-door discussions on the proposed French-drafted statement endorsing the sanctions imposed by the West African regional group ECOWAS, Kenya´s U.N. ambassador, Martin Kimani said he was disappointed that the council couldn´t agree on what he called a relatively mild press statement.

Kimani said the Security Council´s failure to support ECOWAS´ actions spurred its three African members: Kenya, Ghana and Gabon, to speak to reporters to fully back the regional bloc’s position, including the imposition of sanctions on the military authorities in Mali to ensure an expedited transition to constitutional rule.

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Mali has struggled to contain an Islamic extremist insurgency since 2012. Extremist rebels that were forced from power in Mali´s northern cities with the help of a French-led military operation regrouped in the desert and began launching attacks on the Malian army and its allies. Insecurity has worsened with attacks on civilians and U.N. peacekeepers.

ECOWAS leaders responded Sunday, calling Goita’s delayed timetable totally unacceptable, saying it simply means that an illegitimate military transition government will take the Malian people hostage during the next five years.

They imposed new sanctions, suspending most commerce and financial aid to Mali, closing land and air borders with other members of ECOWAS and activating the bloc´s standby force, saying it “will have to be ready for any eventuality.”

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The United States, United Kingdom, France and other Security Council members joined the Africans in supporting ECOWAS´ actions. The three countries also strongly criticized the Russia for the presence of the Russian private military company, the Wagner Group in Mali.

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