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Tuareg rebels to boycott Mali peace conference

Tuareg rebels to boycott Mali peace conference

Mali

Mali’s main Tuareg separatists factions on Saturday said they would boycott talks with the government next week on the implementation the 2015 peace that has been riven by crisis.

The pact signed nearly two-years ago was meant to draw a line under the conflict that pitted nomadic Tuaregs in the desert north against a government seated in the south and which has destabilized Mali, turning it into a launch pad for global jihadist groups.

But implementing the agreement has been held up by bickering, while jihadists have exploited the security vacuum to step up attacks.

We cannot take part in a conference which, far from uniting, risks being divisive.

A statement by the Tuareg rebels said the CMA and Platform declare solemnly that they cannot take part in the conference, explaining that it was not sufficiently inclusive and that they were not consulted about the date when it was fixed.

“We cannot take part in a conference which, far from uniting, risks being divisive,” the groups said.

The 2015 peace accord was meant to draw a line under a conflict that has pitted nomadic Tuaregs in the north against the government in the south.

But the implementation of the agreement has been held up by bickering, while armed groups affiliated to al-Qaeda have exploited the security vacuum to step up attacks.

After months of delays and arguments, there had been some signs of progress in recent weeks with the return of state authority to some cities from which it had been absent since the Tuareg revolt began in 2012.

The armed groups were opposed to the return of state authority to the city, and no agreement has yet been reached to allow it to go ahead.

However, despite French troop deployments, a U.N peacekeeping mission and years of peace talks, Mali remains beset by banditry, unrest and ethnic strife.

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