Peace deal between Mali, Tuareg rebels imminent – Chief negotiator

Malian Soldiers
Malian Soldiers

Mali has been embroiled in a civil clash.

The Malian Interim Government and separatist Tuareg rebels are close to a peace deal after 10 days of negotiations, Mali’s Chief negotiator, Tiebile Drame, said on Tuesday.

“We have agreed on almost all outstanding issues,” Mr. Drame told national radio station ORTM.

The interim government and representatives of two Tuareg groups – the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and the High Council for Unity in the Azawad (HCUA) – have been discussing a peace accord in neighbouring Burkina Faso.

The talks are aimed at securing a ceasefire ahead of elections on July 28.

Negotiations were put on hold last week after the interim government refused to sign a draft agreement proposed by the rebels, demanding “more clarification’’.

A critical issue in the talks is how to ensure that residents of the MNLA-controlled Kidal region in northern Mali can peacefully cast their votes.

Following a military coup in March 2012, Islamist rebel groups largely linked to AlQaeda occupied Mali’s north, demanding independence from the rest of the country.

A military intervention led by France recaptured large parts of the region, including the cities of Timbuktu and Gao. But the region around Kidal, controlled by the Tuaregs, remained in the hands of the rebels.

Both sides have agreed on a number of previously contested issues, including the need for disarmament of armed groups, according to Mr. Drame. Negotiators also decided that Malian defence and security forces be allowed to return to Kidal.

“Fundamental barriers to the peace agreement have been removed,” said Djibril Bassole, the Foreign Minister of Burkina Faso.

“The parties still have to agree to the exact wording but, through consultation, will find a good solution for everyone,” Mr. Bassole told ORTM.


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