Mali: will peace hold with Tuareg rebels?

A Malian government mission arrived June 23 in Kidal, stronghold of the separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), days after the signing of a ceasefire deal with the mediation of the West African bloc ECOWAS. The mission is charged with establishing conditions for the return of Malian defense and security forces on this part of the national territory in conformity with the peace agreement signed June 18 in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou between the Mali’s government and Tuareg separatists including the MNLA and the High Council for Azawad Unity (HCUA). The peace deal allows for the presidential elections set for July 28 to move ahead in the northern region. (Xinhua, June 24; AFP, Nationalia, June 19)



  1. Mali: did MNLA break ceasefire?
    Mali’s army accused Tuareg rebels of breaching a peace accord in the northeastern town of Kidal, by attacking civilians and soldiers. “The MNLA has mobilised women and children in Kidal to throw stones at the black population, African [peacekeeping] troops and Malian soldiers,” army spokesman Lt-Col Diarran Kone said July 7. “It’s a serious violation of the peace accord” signed on June 18 by the rebels and Mali’s transitional government, he added. (AFP, July 8)

    The incident comes just as Mali has lifted the state of emergency in the country, in place since January, in preparation for upcoming elections. (AFP, July 7)

  2. Autonomy for northern Mali?
    Rival Tuareg and Arab rebel factions from northern Mali reached a reconciliation agreement following talks in neighboring Mauritania, it was announced Aug. 9. The National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad, the High Unity Council of the Azawad and the Arab Movement of the Azawad all said they had “decided to open a new page in the history of Azawad based on tolerance.”

    In April, clashes broke out between Tuaregs and Arabs in the town of Ber. The agreement comes as Malians are scheduled to vote in a runoff presidential election this weekend. Tuareg rebels have threatened to launch a new uprising if the if no negotiated settlement is reached for regional autonomy in their northern homeland, which they call Azawad.

    Moussa Ag Assarid, the European representative of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) said last week: “We are going to make a proposal… for an autonomy agreement with the central government… We will continue our struggle democratically but we will take up arms again if we have to.” (AP, Aug. 10; AFP, Aug. 4)

  3. Mali election results
    Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, popularly known as IBK, has prevailed over challenger Soumaila Cisse in the run-off. Of the two, IBK was the one more open to an autonomy deal with the Tuaregs—although the MNLA made no endorsement. “We hope that with him and his team we will end up at a just, equitable and definitive solution that will allow Azawadians to make decisions that will be suitable for their development,” said Moussa Ag Assarid, an MNLA representative in Europe. (AP, Aug. 13)