Mali strongman meets former Tuareg rebels

  • Mali has been in the throes of political uncertainty after the second coup in nine months in the fragile Sahel state.
  • Strongman Colonel Assimi Goita is front and center of the putsch.
  • Mali was plunged into conflict in 2012 when local Tuareg separatists, supported by jihadists, revolted in the north of the country.

Malian strongman Colonel Assimi Goita met former Tuareg rebels on Wednesday, officials said, amid political uncertainty after the second coup in nine months in the fragile Sahel state.

Goita last week deposed the leaders of a transitional government who where themselves installed after a coup in August which toppled Mali’s elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

The colonel had also led young army officers in ousting Keita, following mass protests over perceived corruption and his failure to quell a bloody jihadist insurgency.

The political chaos has stoked fears about the future of a shaky 2015 peace accord, however, which some see as a key element in breaking Mali’s cycle of violence.

Mali was plunged into conflict in 2012 when local Tuareg separatists, supported by jihadists, revolted in the north of the country.

Islamist violence has since spread to central Mali and neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

But in talks brokered in Algiers in 2015, several rebel groups, including ex-separatists, inked a peace deal with Mali’s central government in a bid to stop the fighting.

READ | Mali suspended from African Union after second coup in nine months

Implementing this deal is viewed by many as one of the few longterm solutions to the conflict, but it has never been fully implemented.

Goita met late Wednesday a delegation from the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), according to a aide of the colonel’s and officials from the group.

The CMA is a mostly ethnic Tuareg alliance that rose up against the central government in 2012 but signed the 2015 accord.

“The CMA was reassured about its concerns and reiterated its availability to support the transition,” an official from the group said after the meeting.

READ HERE | Ousted Mali interim president, prime minister freed by military after resigning while in detention

Opposition figure Choguel Maiga, who is tipped to become prime minister but is known for his opposition to the 2015 peace accord, was also present.

An aide to Goita, who also declined to be named, said that “peace, security and reconciliation” were discussed at the meeting.


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