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Mali Armed Groups Suspend Peace Deal

The suspension will be maintained “until a meeting is held with international mediation and on neutral ground

Almost all armed groups in Mali that signed a major peace deal in 2015 suspended their participation in the agreement on Thursday, decrying the ruling junta’s “lack of political will” to uphold it.

The Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) — a predominantly Tuareg alliance that fought the state for years before signing the 2015 deal — along with almost all the other armed groups that signed it, “have unanimously decided to suspend their participation in the monitoring and implementation mechanisms” of the agreement.

The suspension will be maintained “until a meeting is held with international mediation and on neutral ground, in order to decide on the future of the said Agreement”, the groups said in a joint statement.

Northern Mali a decade ago was battered after ethnic Tuaregs launched a campaign for independence or a special status.

Jihadists joined the rebellion, transforming it into the springboard for an Islamist insurgency that has since swept into neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso.

The Tuareg-dominated armed groups signed the peace accord with central government in 2015 granting more autonomy for the north.

But the path towards implementing the deal has been laborious, becoming an argument for reviving long-aborted attempts to revamp the constitution.

One part of the political class remains hostile to greater autonomy in the north.

The armed groups “unanimously regret the lack of political will on the part of the transitional authorities to implement the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali” the statement on Thursday said.

They also decried the authorities’ “inertia in the face of the security challenges that have caused hundreds of deaths and displaced persons” in the regions of Menaka, Gao and Timbuktu.

The armed group launched an “urgent appeal” to humanitarian organisations to help the populations in distress in those regions.

Earlier this month, the CMA denounced the “decay” of the 2015 agreement and called on its international guarantors to “avoid a definitive rupture” between the signatories.

Mali has recently suffered two military coups, in August 2020 and May 2021.

The ruling junta has adopted a transitional timetable to allow for a return to civilian rule in March 2024.