Tuareg rebels prepare to sign peace deal

2015-06-20 19:14
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Bamako - Mali's Tuareg-led rebel alliance prepared on Saturday to sign a landmark deal to end years of unrest in a nation riven by ethnic divisions and in the grip of a jihadist insurgency.

The Algiers Accord aims to bring stability to the country's vast northern desert, cradle of several Tuareg uprisings since the 1960s and a sanctuary for Islamist fighters linked to al-Qaeda.

Amendments made

The document was signed in May by the government and loyalist militias but the Co-ordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), a coalition of rebel groups, had been holding out until amendments were agreed upon two weeks ago.

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders, former head of the UN peacekeeping force in Mali, and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius welcomed the CMA's commitment to the accord and urged Mali to ensure the deal was implemented.

"This responsibility lies primarily with the Malian actors and the government and armed groups must regain mutual trust - the only possibility for progress," they said in a joint op-ed in French daily Le Monde.

"The political party leaders also have an important role to play, as well as civil society, including women and youth. In a word, reconciliation is the business of all Malians," they added.

Ramtane Lamamra, the foreign minister of Algeria, which has been leading international efforts to mediate the peace talks, is expected in the Malian capital to sign the deal, along with scores of rebels.

Security force

The peace accord, hammered out over months under the auspices of the UN, calls for the creation of elected regional assemblies but stop short of autonomy or federalism for northern Mali.

The Malian government and several armed groups signed the document on May 15 in Bamako, in a ceremony spurned by the CMA.

The rebels finally agreed to commit on June 5 after winning a stipulation that its fighters be included in a security force for the north and that residents of the region be represented better in government institutions, among other concessions.


Read more on:    mali  |  west africa

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