Malian rebels resume peace talks with government

Mali’s Tuareg and Arab rebels say they are resuming peace negotiations with the West African country’s government.

The rebels, who are fighting to gain autonomy in the northern region of the country, made the announcement on Saturday, nine days after they staged a walkout from the talks, which were held in Ouagadougou, the capital of neighboring Burkina Faso, AFP reported.

“We declare the lifting of our suspension on our participation in the peace process,” Ibrahim Ag Mohamed Assaleh of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) told reporters after holding a meeting with the president of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore, who is mediating the peace talks, in Ouagadougou.

“The decisions to temporarily suspend our participation allowed us to hold an internal dialogue among our movements and have fruitful clarifying exchanges with the mediator,” Assaleh stated.

He added that he was also speaking on behalf of the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA) and the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA –Mouvement arabe de l’Azawad).

In a joint statement issued on September 26, the rebels said, “Following multiple difficulties in implementing the Ouagadougou accord, caused notably by the Mali government’s failure to respect its commitments,” the Tuareg and Arab rebel groups “decided to suspend participation in the structures created by the said accord.”

The truce accord was mediated by regional African powers, the United Nations and the European Union.

On Wednesday, the Malian government freed 23 rebel prisoners under the terms of the June ceasefire agreement in a bid to revive the peace process.

“Putting into practice the Ouagadougou accord, we have signed the decision to liberate 23 people,” Justice Minister Mohamed Ali Bathily said in a ceremony in the capital Bamako.

“With the aim of bringing peace, we have released these prisoners,” Bathily said. “They will not be pursued for crimes against humanity or war crimes.”

Chaos broke out in the West African country after Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22, 2012. The coup leaders said they mounted the coup in response to the government’s inability to contain the Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country, which had been going on for two months.

However, in the wake of the coup d’état, the Tuareg rebels took control of the entire northern desert region, but the Ansar Dine extremists then pushed them aside and took control of the region, which is larger than France or Texas.

By Press TV


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