France asks UN to add five to Mali sanctions blacklist

United Nations (United States) (AFP) –


The UN Security Council is considering adding five Mali nationals to the sanctions blacklist including two businessmen accused of drug trafficking and of blocking aid projects, according to documents seen by AFP on Friday.

France put forward the request on Thursday, naming five individuals who would be hit with a global travel ban and assets freeze for obstructing peace efforts in Mali.

Council members have until Tuesday to raise objections to the request -- which would mark only the second time that targeted sanctions have been imposed in Mali.

Among the five slated for sanctions are two leading jihadists in northern Mali: Houka Houka Ag AlHousseni, an influential Islamist in Timbuktu and Mahri Sidi Amar Ben Daha, described as a high-ranking officer in the Islamic police that ran Gao in 2012-2013.

Also targeted for sanctions is Mohamed Ould Mataly, a member of parliament from President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita's political party who has allegedly instigated demonstrations against the Mali peace accord.

Businessman Mohamed Ben Ahmed Mahri was cited for funding arms groups through drug trafficking, with control over routes that cross northern Mali From Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger.

Also targeted for sanctions is businessman Ahmed Ag Albachar, who heads a humanitarian commission in Kidal with authority over aid and development projects.

"As self-proclaimed president of the humanitarian commission, Ag Albachar is in charge of granting residence and work permits of aid workers in exchange for money or services," according to documents submitted to the council.

The council on Friday voted to extend the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, until June 30 and to beef up its presence in the strife-torn center of the country.

The unanimous decision came three months after at least 157 people, including 46 children, were massacred in the central village of Ogossagou, in raids blamed on extremists stoking communal tensions.

The sanctions are aimed at shoring up a 2015 peace deal to restore stability to Mali following a brief Islamist takeover in the north, three years earlier.

The deal has failed to stop violence by Islamist militants, who have also staged attacks in Burkina Faso, Niger and against UN peacekeepers.