Dissident rebel factions in Niger are refusing to honor a peace deal brokered between the government and Tuareg guerillas by Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi. The Movement of Nigeriens for Justice (MNJ) issued a statement saying “What has just taken place in Libya is a gigantic farce.” The Front of Forces for Rectification (FFR) said it would “pursue the political and armed struggle until democratic order and justice are restored.”
The deal was formalized in a ceremony at the Libyan oasis town of Sabha Oct, 6, attended by Agaly Alambo, until recently the president of the MNJ, and by Ibrahim Ag Bahanga, a Malian rebel leader who fled to Libya after a crackdown on his group. Algeria was the key mediator between Mali and the Tuareg rebels, but Ag Bahanga recently announced that he wanted to participate in the Libya-brokered peace process.
At the ceremony, Qaddafi boasted that more than 1,000 fighters from the National Patriotic Front had already laid down their arms at a televised ceremony three days earlier in Agadez, Niger. Qaddafi said under the deal “there will be no single armed rebel left in the mountains of Mali and Niger and all those who used to lead the rebel movements are present alongside me.”
But the MNJ statement accused the representatives at the peace talks of having “betrayed the cause of the Tuareg peoples,” stating that “none of the conditions for dialogue was accepted.” Last month the MNJ announced that it removed its president Aghali Alambo, accusing him of having “failed to act in the interest of the movement.” The FFR, led by Rhissa Ag Boula, broke from the MNJ when it entered into dialogue with the government.
Niger’s President Mamadou Tandja has offered the rebels amnesty if they lay down their arms, but the MNJ is demanding the integration of its troops in the country’s military and a share of Niger’s uranium wealth. (Reuters, Tripoli Post, Oct. 10; AFP, Oct. 8; MISNA, Oct. 7)