Rebels operating in northern Mali have rejected a U.N.-brokered preliminary peace deal after discussing it for days with protest leaders in the desert region they call Azawad, although they said they will remain committed to negotiations. Reuters report:
Drawn up after months of talks in Algeria and signed by the government in Bamako this month, the agreement is aimed at tackling decades of rebellion in the north, where Islamist militants are fighting thousands of French and U.N. troops.
The proposal, put forward after eight months of talks, did not tackle the root causes of the conflict, a statement late on Sunday from the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) said. The CMA and its grassroots supporters want autonomy for the northern region but the proposal only offers more devolved powers, a regional security force and a development plan.
“All the commissions that worked on the document find that it cannot bring peace,” Moussa Ag Assarid, the CMA’s diplomatic representative to the European Union, told Reuters on Monday. “We could follow up with further talks with Bamako to find a document that is acceptable and realistic.”
France, the former colonial power in Mali which sent troops there two years ago to try to oust al Qaeda-linked militants, called for the CMA to sign the deal.