Armed groups in northern Mali pull out of Algiers peace talks

The groups negotiating with the military government demand talks in a neutral country under international mediation.

A coalition of armed groups in northern Mali has pulled out of long-running peace talks based on a 2015 Algiers accord because of what they call a lack of political will on the part of the country’s military government.

The coalition, called the Permanent Strategic Framework for Peace, Security and Development (CSP-PSD), said in a statement on Thursday that it would only come back to the table if talks were held in a neutral country under international mediation.

“CSP-PSD regrets the persistent absence of political will of the transitional authorities to implement [the peace accord],” it said, adding it would “suspend participation” in the talks.

There was no immediate comment from Malian authorities.

Cycle of violence

The announcement jeopardised the agreement signed in Algiers more than seven years ago between the West African country’s then-civilian government and armed groups to restore peace in the north, after rebels sought to break away from the capital Bamako in 2012.

The rebels were defeated, but Mali has since descended into a cycle of violence in which local affiliates of al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) have taken control of large areas, killing thousands of civilians.

The agreement sought to decentralise Mali, integrate former rebels into the armed forces and bolster the economy of the north.

Progress has been slow – decentralisation has not happened, and constant violence has stymied attempts at disarmament and ravaged the local economy.

Mali has experienced two military coups since August 2020. Former colonial power France, which helped contain fighters for a decade, withdrew thousands of troops this year after Mali joined forces with Russian military contractor the Wagner Group.

Source: Reuters