UN diplomats say Russia is blocking sanctions experts in Africa

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Russia is holding up the appointment of independent experts to monitor the implementation of sanctions on four African countries, saying the panels proposed by the UN secretary general are not geographically balanced and some members are not impartial, UN diplomats have said.

The refusal is delaying investigations of sanctions violations in South Sudan, Congo and the Central African Republic, AP cited the diplomats as saying.

The assignment of experts to the committee dealing with the Central African Republic has been stalled since August 31, AFP reported.

The mandate for the committee on the Democratic Republic of Congo expired on August 1.

On Mali, the panel of experts will have to suspend its investigative work on Thursday. For South Sudan, no work has taken place since July 1.

The investigative work of several panels of experts tasked with monitoring compliance with UN arms embargoes and economic sanctions in conflict zones, including Mali, is being blocked, sometimes for months by Russia, AFP cited UN diplomats as saying on Wednesday.

The UN Security Council has to approve new panels before the monitoring of sanctions can continue and Russia has veto power in the UN’s most powerful body.

“We can’t approve unbalanced composition of the sanction committees,” AP quoted Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, Dmitry Polyansky, as saying. “And this issue unfortunately hasn’t been duly taken care of by the UN Secretariat. So we hope a solution will be found soon.”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has yet to comment.

In recent years, Russia has become much more active in Africa, especially in the Central African Republic and Mali.

In late June, UN experts accused Russian military instructors and the Central African Republic forces they are supporting of “excessive use of force, indiscriminate killings, the occupation of schools and looting on a large scale”.

Moscow denied the allegations.

The National

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