New York – The UN Security Council on Friday urged a holdout rebel group in Mali to initial a peace deal and said it was ready to slap sanctions on those who resume hostilities.
The 15-member council said the March 1 peace accord was a “historic opportunity” for peace in Mali following the Islamist takeover in the north in 2012 that brought the country to the brink of collapse.
A council statement urged the main Tuareg rebel alliance, known as the Co-ordination, to initial the deal.
On Thursday, Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop urged the council to put pressure on the Co-ordination to accept the accord and warned that a collapse of the peace effort would have “enormous risks” for Mali and the region.
Algeria has scheduled a ceremony on April 15 during which the Co-ordination’s representatives are expected to initial the accord, with a formal signing to follow soon after.
The council said it was ready to “consider appropriate measures, including targeted sanctions, against those who resume hostilities and violate the ceasefire.”
The accord negotiated under UN auspices provides for greater regional autonomy for the north in line with long-standing demands by Tuaregs and other groups.
Islamist militants seized control of northern Mali for more than nine months until a French-led military intervention in 2013 partly drove them from the region.
The council expressed concern over the security situation in Mali, where a UN peace force has suffered heavy losses during attacks by Islamist groups in the north.
At least 35 peacekeepers have been killed in action since the UN’s Minusma force was deployed in July 2013, and 137 wounded in attacks.
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