Mali PM says talks with rebels imminent

Comment on this story
iol news pic Belgium EU Mali~1 Associated Press Mali's former prime minister, Oumar Tatam Ly. File picture: Yves Logghe

PARIS - Mali's prime minister said on Friday he could begin initial talks as early as next week to try and end recurrent revolts by mainly Tuareg rebels trying to carve out an independent state in the desert north.

The West African country descended into turmoil in 2012 when Tuareg separatists, alongside Islamist fighters linked to al Qaeda, took advantage of the chaos after a coup to seize control of the north of the country.

French troops drove out the Islamists last year, elections were held and a U.N. peacekeeping mission is rolling out.

But talks between Bamako and Tuareg and Arab rebels with political demands have stalled. The U.N. Security Council, which visited Mali this week, has warned that the failure to reach a deal risked radicalising fighters and undoing security gains.

Speaking at a news conference in Paris, Prime Minister Oumar Tatam Ly said his country had handed a political roadmap to Security Council two days ago.

“We are determined to move forward and to increase the contacts with armed groups to make progress,” Ly told reporters with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius.

Mali's new president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, was elected partly for his reputation for taking a firm stand against the rebels during previous uprisings, and he is under pressure not to make concessions to fighters most southern Malians blame for their country's implosion.

But Ly appeared to take a conciliatory stance and said three workshops could begin next week in the presence of U.N. peacekeepers with the armed groups and members of civil society organisations in the north.

“Things must move quickly. The situation is more open than in previous months even if there are still many hurdles,” he said.

The sessions would centre on learning the mistakes of previous failed peace talks, restoring rebel fighters to barracks and bringing administrative and social services back to the country's north.

The results of those workshops would then be used to create a reconciliation forum between the various groups and central government, said officials.

The Islamists occupied the desert north for most of the year until former colonial ruler France sent in troops, warning the zone had become a springboard for attacks across the region and in the West.


sign up

Comment Guidelines

  1. Please read our comment guidelines.
  2. Login and register, if you haven’ t already.
  3. Write your comment in the block below and click (Post As)
  4. Has a comment offended you? Hover your mouse over the comment and wait until a small triangle appears on the right-hand side. Click triangle () and select "Flag as inappropriate". Our moderators will take action if need be.

  5. Verified email addresses: All users on Independent Media news sites are now required to have a verified email address before being allowed to comment on articles. You are only required to verify your email address once to have full access to commenting on articles. For more information please read our comment guidelines