Mali rebels talk about peace

2015-03-12 05:00

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Bamako - Mali's Tuareg-led rebels met Wednesday in the northeast of the country to decide whether to sign a peace deal already accepted by the government and smaller armed groups, a participant told AFP.

Between 150 and 200 mainly Tuareg figures travelled from across the region to the city of Kidal to take part in the talks, expected to last several days, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Among them were participants from Mauritania, Niger, Libya and Algeria.

The meeting began four days after UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged the main rebel alliance - known as the Co-ordination - to sign a peace deal penned in Algeria on 1 March.

The Malian government signed the agreement, along with some northern pro-Bamako armed groups, but the rebels asked for more time.

A Malian diplomat who also spoke on condition of anonymity said the rebels are under pressure from European states to join the peace deal.

"Diplomats from several European countries in Bamako are expected to go to Kidal, if the situation allows, to encourage the signing of the accord," said the diplomat.

A jihadist attack Saturday that left five people dead, including two Europeans and a Malian policeman, has turned up the heat on any reticent rebels.

The Malian government and the international community saw the assault as a bid to sabotage peace efforts.

Islamist militants in 2012 seized control of northern Mali in 2012 for more than nine months until a French-led military intervention in 2013 that partly drove them from the region.

Read more on:    mali  |  west africa

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