Tuareg factions to boycott Mali peace conference

Separatist groups vow to boycott talks with the government next week, explaining they are not sufficiently inclusive.

    Unrest in Mali's north prompted France to launch a military intervention in its former colony in 2013 [File: Joe Penney/Reuters]
    Unrest in Mali's north prompted France to launch a military intervention in its former colony in 2013 [File: Joe Penney/Reuters]

    Mali's main Tuareg factions say they will boycott talks with the government next week on implementing a 2015 peace agreement, dimming hopes of attaining peace in the West African country.

    The main separatist groups in northern Mali - the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) and Platform, a coalition of pro-government Tuareg - said they could not take part in the conference, explaining that it was not sufficiently inclusive.

    France in Mali: protection or control?

    "We cannot take part in a conference which, far from uniting, risks being divisive," the groups said in a statement on Saturday.

    The 2015 peace accord was meant to draw a line under a conflict that has pitted nomadic Tuaregs in the north against the government in the south.

    But the implementation of the agreement has been held up by bickering, while armed groups affiliated to al-Qaeda have exploited the security vacuum to step up attacks.

    After months of delays and arguments, there had been some signs of progress in recent weeks with the return of state authority to some cities from which it had been absent since the Tuareg revolt began in 2012.

    READ MORE: Mali conflict puts over 250,000 orphans at risk

    In April 2012, a nomadic rebel group called the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) seized control of an area larger than France before being ousted by al-Qaeda-linked groups who imposed a strict interpretation of Islamic law on the local population, carrying out amputations and executions.

    In January 2013, France launched a military intervention in its former West African colony to stop the rebels' southward offensive.

    Despite continued French troop deployments, a United Nations peacekeeping mission and years of peace talks, Mali remains beset by unrest and ethnic strife.

    In recent months, joint patrols by fighters from the various armed factions and the Malian security forces have helped restore confidence, but tensions remain high.

    Earlier this month, armed groups surrounded Timbuktu, once a popular tourist destination because of its fabled history of gilded Islamic empires that grew rich on trade connecting Africa's interior with its Mediterranean coast.

    The armed groups were opposed to the return of state authority to the city, and no agreement has yet been reached to allow it to go ahead.

    SOURCE: News agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    In 1959, a year before Nigeria's independence, a 23-year-old student helped colour the country's identity.