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Mali, Armed Groups to Hold Peace Talks in Algeria Wednesday

  • Peter Clottey

FILE: Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced a cease-fire Friday. He's shown at a press conference Jan. 18, 2014.

FILE: Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced a cease-fire Friday. He's shown at a press conference Jan. 18, 2014.

The African Union (AU) Mission to Mali and the Sahel has called on Mali’s government and representatives of armed groups to ensure transparency and good will as the parties begin peace negotiations in neighboring Algeria on Wednesday.

Issaka Souare, the special adviser to the head of the AU mission and former Burundian president Pierre Buyoya, says the African Union and its international partners will be present at the talks to help broker a peace deal to as part of its objective to ensure peace and stability as well as enable the West African country maintain its territorial integrity.

“One of the African Union objectives is to assist the Malian authorities and the parties to get to these inclusive talks, which we hope will lead to a greater amelioration of the security situation, but also a definitive resolution of the conflict including the military aspect in terms of the demobilization and reintegration in whatever ways the Malians will agree of former combatants of armed movements,” said Souare.

Some analysts have expressed skepticism about the planned talks in Algeria following recent violence carried out by armed groups in Mali’s north that left scores dead and forced residents to flee the clashes.

But Souare says he is hopeful about the peace prospects of the negotiations.

“The essence of the talks really [is] to put to an end to these skirmishes,” said Souare. “So the fact that the parties; the government and armed movements have assembled to have these talks we want to suppose that there is trust, there is commitment, there is willingness and so long as you have these conditions met, the prospects of [them] reaching an agreement are great.”

Souare says the AU and its international partners are working together to ensure both parties reach a compromise for peace to be established in Mali.

“The African Union in conjunction with other regional [groupings like] ECOWAS [The Economic Community of West African States], the UN, the European Union and others will do everything they can to ensure that we reach a conclusive agreement at the end of this process,” said Souare.

The AU special representative to Mali and the Sahel, former Burundian President Pierre Buyoya and a team from the African Union are currently in Algeria to monitor the peace negotiations, according to Souare.

He said the AU is hopeful the peace negotiations would lead to the restoration of peace in parts of Mali, which have often seen clashes between armed groups and government troops.

“The idea is to have an open transparent process in which not only you have one lead facilitator, the Algerian authorities, but which would be supported by international actors like the AU, the ECOWAS and the European Union. Because those who are representing those organizations on the ground have a wealth of expertise and experience, bringing which to the table can only enrich the process,” said Souare.