West Africa: Mali to Start Peace Talks After Ending Deal With Separatists

Mali’s junta decided to launch a new national peace process just one day after it ended a key 2015 peace deal. Tuareg rebels are skeptical of the initiative.

Mali‘s ruling junta issued a decree to establish a new committee that will oversee a national peace dialogue.

The move comes a day after the junta scrapped a key 2015 peace deal with northern separatist groups, accusing mediator Algeria of interfering in its affairs.

Algeria previously mediated between the government and mainly Tuareg armed groups.

“There will be no negotiations outside Bamako. We will no longer… go to a foreign country to speak about our problems,” the military-appointed head of government, Choguel Kokalla Maiga, said in a video posted on social media on Friday.

Tuareg rebels reject the initiative

The junta’s decree outlined the structure of a committee and the steps it should take to prepare for peace talks. It did not set a time frame or say which groups it wanted to include in the dialogue.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Tuareg rebel spokesperson Mohamed Elmaouloud Ramadane told Reuters the new initiative was a “staged event” between already aligned groups. “We think it’s a show, a waste of time and a waste of state resources,” he said.

An alliance of Tuareg rebel groups confirmed on Friday the end of the 2015 peace deal in a statement and called on its members to review and update their goals in light of the new situation.

What was the peace deal?

The Algiers Accord was signed in 2015 with support from the UN. It had been considered an essential agreement to maintaining stability in the region that has seen a flare-up of jihadist violence since 2012.

The agreement aimed to see ex-rebels integrated into the national army and allowed for more autonomy for the various regions.

Mali’s junta blamed a “change in posture of certain signatory groups” as well as “acts of hostility” from Algeria, the peace deal’s main mediator.

Tensions have been increasing between Mali and Algeria, with the former accusing the latter of “interference” and “unfriendly acts.”

Mali’s government summoned the Algerian ambassador in December last year, saying that the diplomat had held meetings with the Tuareg separatists.

Violence and instability in Mali

There were already signs of the deal coming apart when fighting broke out between Mali’s military and the separatists in August last year.

The West African country has undergone two coups since 2020, leading to military rule and a fallout with Western powers that had been present in Mali as part of a counterinsurgency operation.

The junta ordered UN peacekeeping troops to leave the country, as well as French troops who had been fighting insurgents in the north of Mali.

Their departure has been seen as an instigator for the upsurge in violence as both the government and separatist groups raced to fill up the vacuum.

dh/lo (AFP, Reuters)

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