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Mali junta eyes new peace talks after ending accord with separatists

MALI’S junta issued a decree to establish a committee to organise national peace and reconciliation talks, a day after it ended a 2015 peace deal with Tuareg separatist rebels and accused mediator Algeria of interfering in its affairs.

The decision to end the so-called Algiers accord threatens to further destabilise the conflict-torn West African nation.

Algeria, which shares a border with Mali more than 1,300 km long said the decision could put the entire region at risk.

In an apparent move to establish a new internal peace process, the junta’s decree outlined the structure of a committee and the steps it should take to prepare talks. It did not give a timeframe or say which groups it wanted to include in the dialogue.

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Tuareg rebel spokesperson Mohamed Elmaouloud Ramadane on Saturday told Reuters the new initiative was a “staged event” between groups who are already aligned.

“We think it’s a show, a waste of time and a waste of state resources,” he said.

An alliance of Tuareg rebel groups on Friday acknowledged the termination of the 2015 peace deal in a statement and called on their members to review and update their objectives in light of the new situation.

Mali, on the Sahara Desert’s southern fringe, has been plagued by violence since 2012, when Islamist militants hijacked an uprising by the Tuareg groups who complained of government neglect and sought autonomy for the desert region they call Azawad.

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The Tuaregs signed the peace accord with the Bamako government in 2015, but militant groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State have gone on to kill thousands of civilians in insurgencies that have spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

The Tuareg peace agreement had come under increasing strain since the military consolidated power in two coups in 2020 and 2021, teamed up with Russian military contractor Wagner Group, and kicked out French forces and the U.N. peacekeeping mission.

Fighting between the Malian army and the separatists has escalated again since last August as they have jostled for position during the gradual withdrawal of U.N. peacekeepers.

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By The African Mirror

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