Security Council set to renew Abkhazia monitor mandate
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As the UN prepares to renew the mandate of ceasefire monitors in Abkhazia, separatist leaders have warned they will not allow peacekeepers to continue working unless the mission's name is changed to reflect their desire for independance.
AFP - France on Tuesday circulated a draft resolution calling for extending the mandate of the UN mission in Georgia until next June, with diplomats predicting adoption before the end of the week.
The text, which was fine-tuned in closed-door consultations, does not mention Georgia by name nor does it refer to the UN mission by its official name UNOMIG (United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia).
The draft, a copy of which was read by AFP, would extend the mandate of UN observers, which expires Sunday, "for a new period terminating on June 15, 2009."
It would express the council's intention to "outline the elements of a future UN presence in the region by June 15, 2009," taking into account recommendations by UN chief Ban Ki-moon, Geneva discussions on the issue and developments on the ground.
Japan's UN Ambassador Yukio Takasu, the 15-member council chair this month, told reporters that he was "very confident that adoption (of the draft) will be taking place before the end of the week" as it had been endorsed by major players, including veto-wielding member Russia.
The text does refer to Security Council Resolution 1808 passed last April that reaffirms the commitment of all UN member states to "the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders."
Russia recognised the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states following a brief war with Georgia last August, but the move was met with international condemnation and so far only Nicaragua has followed Moscow's lead.
Russia has also announced it plans to deploy some 3,800 soldiers in each of the two rebel regions and to set up military bases there.
UNOMIG's mandate extends only to the conflict between Georgia and the breakaway enclave of Abkhazia.
The force, which currently fields 131 military observers and 20 policemen, was created in 1993 to oversee a ceasefire accord between the Georgian government and Abkhaz separatist authorities.
Tuesday, Abkhazia's "foreign minister" Sergei Chamba said UNOMIG could keep its observers in the breakaway region on condition that its name and mandate are changed.
"Abkhazia is an independent state and the new mandate of the UN mission must reflect this fact," the Russian news agency Interfax quoted Chamba as saying.
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