Mali leader warns UN about 'terrorist' gains

2016-09-23 22:30


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New York -Malian President Ibrahim Boubakar Keita told the United Nations on Friday that "extremist and terrorist" groups were growing in his war-torn country where increased clashes were slowing peace efforts.

"Tangible progress has been achieved" since peace accords were signed in 2015, Keita told the opening of an international meeting on Mali on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

But the "growth of terrorist acts and banditry" in the center of the country" and "the growth of extremist and terrorist groups" affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group are undermining peace efforts, he said.

The president also spoke about increased trafficking in weapons, drugs and migrants and "clashes between signatory members of the accord".

Clashes between Malian armed groups in defiance of the peace deal killed at least a dozen people on September 16 in the restive Kidal region of northern Mali, sources on both sides of the violence have said.

Harmful environment 

"All these factors create a harmful environment," Keita said, despite stressing his commitment to the peace accord.

The country will convene a national conference of understanding later this year to "bring about a common vision," he told the meeting.

"It is vital, essential to accelerate implementation of the agreement," said French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, hailing the progress made since 2013.

Northern Mali fell into the hands of jihadists linked to al-Qaeda in early 2012.

A French military intervention in 2013 drove Islamist fighters away from major urban centers.

But despite the 2015 deal aimed at ending years of fighting in the north and turning the page on the Islamist takeover, large tracts of the sub-Saharan country are still not controlled by Malian troops.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  mali  |  west africa  |  security

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