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Tuareg Rebels Sign Historic Peace Deal With Malian Government

Tuareg rebels and the Malian government have vowed to honor a peace deal devolving more power to northern communities

teleSUR | June 21, 2015

A coalition of Tuareg-led rebels signed a historic peace deal with the Malian government Saturday, after securing more autonomy from Bamako.

“Hand in hand, let us make Mali better, more brotherly, more united than ever,” said President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in an official ceremony in the Malian capital. Cheers erupted in the ceremony when the peace deal was signed by Sidi Brahim Ould Sidati, a representative of the predominantly Tuareg militia alliance, the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA).

Under the peace deal, the Malian government agreed to allow the formation of democratically elected regional councils in the country’s war-torn north, and dropped arrest warrants for a number of militant leaders. The deal is a far cry from long-standing Tuareg demands for an independent state in the northern desert, but has already been hailed as a major step forward in resolving long standing tensions between the ethnic group and the central government.

A spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the deal, but urged both sides to ensure its implementation.

“The ultimate responsibility for peace lies with Mali and the Malians,” they stated.

For decades Mali’s Tuareg minority has complained of marginalization, and accused the government of neglecting them and the country’s far north. The Malian ethnic group has repeatedly revolted against the government, with the latest insurrection taking place amid a 2012 coup in Bamako. For nearly 10 months vast swathes of the north were wrestled from government control.

A French-led military intervention was launched in 2013 amid allegations the uprising had been hijacked by al-Qaida linked militants, leading to the return of government rule in the fractured north. Since then, the region has been mired in instability, with many Tuareg remaining frustrated with the central government.

A version of the peace deal was rejected by Tauregs earlier this year.

One CMA spokesperson, Mahamadou Djeri Maiga, told AFP the peace deal was just the start of a long road towards ensuring the agreement with the government is honored. “We are for peace, but what we want is that the agreement is actually implemented on the ground,” he said.

June 21, 2015 - Posted by | Aletho News | ,

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