Following the installation of long-delayed interim authorities in Mali’s troubled nothern region of Kidal on Tuesday, an armed group has opposed the installation on of authorities in Gao, a town of 50,000 people on the banks of the Niger river, where the authorities were set to begin work on Thursday.
The Co-ordination and Patriotic Forces Resistance Movement, a political-military group which has occupied Gao since Tuesday, has prohibited state officials from entering the town.
The group has stationed more than a dozen armed men in the town, throwing the installation which is seen as the first step towards improving security to allow for elections, into uncertainty.
Several armed groups in nothern Mali say they have been sidelined by the international community, which has been driving mediation between Bamako and the rebels.
They have tabled demands to be considered as signatories to the peace agreement signed between the government and an alliance of Tuareg- led rebels in June 2015, to end years of fighting the country’s north.
Despite uncertainty in Gao, Malian officials remain confident that the plan to install authorities in other towns namely; Menaka in the north east, followed by Timbuktu in the north west and Taoudenni in the far north on Friday, is on course.
In addition to representing local people until security improves to sufficiently to allow local elections, the authorities will also look to aid thousands of displaced people who fled their homes during the unrest, to return.