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Mali to begin mixed patrols before end of February

Mali to begin mixed patrols before end of February

Mali

The signatories of the peace agreement in Mali have set a new timetable for the implementation of mixed patrols and establishment of interim authorities in the north before the end of February, a document obtained Friday by AFP says.

The document comes from the “Working Group” which met this week in Bamako to prepare the meeting of the Monitoring Committee in line with the agreement signed in May-June 2015 to end hostilities.

The meeting was held just three weeks after the January 18th jihadist attack in Gao, the main city in northern Mali, that left more than 80 people dead.

“We have the duty and the will to succeed together,” said Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra, whose country is leading the international mediation that resulted in this agreement between the government, pro government groups and the Coordination Of the Movement of Azawad (CMA), an ex-rebellion Tuareg group.

“We are all committed to this agreement, we see no other alternative,” Lamamra added at the start of the meeting, which was held in the presence of the head of the UN Mission in Mali (Minusma), Mahamat Saleh Annadif and the head of the Africa Department of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to the Working Group’s document, the installation in the north of the interim authorities will take place “from 13 to 20 February” while the “mixed patrols” between Malian soldiers, fighters of the pro-government groups and the CMA will begin on February 20.

“Mixed patrols will start in Gao on February 20,” according to the text, then “on February 28 in Kidal (north-east), and in Timbuktu (northwest) a week later.”

In Kidal, which is still controlled by the ex-rebels, “the return of state representation and de-concentrated services will resume with the installation of the interim authorities while the mixed patrols has been scheduled for 28 February” .

In January, the UN Security Council warned that “continuing delays threatened the viability of the agreement” which was supposed to isolate the jihadists who had taken control of northern Mali in 2012.

Mali was shaken by a coup almost five years ago that cleared the way for Tuareg separatists to seize towns and cities of the north.

Al-Qaeda-linked fighters then overpowered the Tuareg, taking control of northern Mali for nearly 10 months until they were ousted in a French-led military offensive.

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