Three armed movements from northern Mali have signed a joint statement in Algiers, declaring that they are ready to work for peace with the Bamako government, Algeria's foreign ministry said.
The “Algiers Declaration” was signed on Monday by The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA) and the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA), demanding "inclusive" peace and political talks in their troubled country.
The three movements said they were seeking a "definitive" solution to decades of instability in northern Mali by "taking account of the legitimate claims of the local population with full respect for the territorial integrity and the national unity of Mali", the statement said.
The top leaders of the MNLA and HCUA have been in the Algerian capital since Thursday. The two groups are formed by ethnic Tuareg who, since 1962, have launched four uprisings to fight Mali's army over the territory they claim as their homeland, what they call Azawad.
The secular MAA, which seeks sweeping autonomy in Mali's part of the Sahara and the Sahel, has joined forces with them to try to enhance "the momentum under way for peace", according to the APS news agency.
Imposing Sharia law
In January 2012, Tuareg fighters began the first rebellion in three years in northern Mali, and formed an alliance with al-Qaeda linked fighters, who sought to impose a conservative interpretation of Islamic law in towns they controlled.
Mali's army was, meanwhile, thrown into disarray by a coup in Bamako in March 2012, AFP news agency reported.
Armed groups linked to al-Qaeda gained the upper hand over the Tuareg in several towns before military intervention by former colonial power France in January 2013, which helped drive the armed fighters to desert hideouts.
The MNLA allied itself with the army to fight the al-Qaeda linked groups.
Representatives of the peoples in northern Mali previously held "exploratory consultations" in Algiers in January. They said they wanted to get full political and peace talks off the ground after discussions last year mediated by Burkina Faso on behalf of the Economic Community of West African States.
Algeria, which has a long porous border with Mali rife with rebel movements, is helping to mediate in the conflict affecting its southern neighbour.