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Mali, rebels start third round of peace talks


BAMAKO – Mali Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop, said government has began a third round of peace negotiations with mostly Tuareg rebel groups in Algiers on Thursday night.
He said on Friday in Bamako that this was aimed at ending decades of uprisings in the north, with the government calling for a swift conclusion of a deal.
Diop said this has become imperative and there was need to quickly reach a solid agreement.
“We are well aware of the difficulties we face on this route, and one of those is the situation on the ground.”
The Minister said Mali’s vast desert north has risen up four times in the last five decades, with various groups fighting for independence or a form of self-rule from the government in the south.
Diop said earlier this year, the two sides signed a roadmap for negotiations that called for three rounds of talks before a final peace deal was to be signed in Mali.
He said it was so unfortunate that unrest and violence in the West African country has continued even after troops from France intervened last year to drive back Islamists who had taken advantage of the latest Tuareg-led rebellion.
According to a source, the rebels said last month that clashes between armed groups and pro-government militias killed at least six people in northern Mali, fueling tensions just before a round of talks.
He said the distrust between the main separatist group, the Mali army and divisions among rebel groups themselves have also complicated attempts to hammer out a peace agreement.
He said three main rebel groups, the Tuareg MNLA, High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA) and the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA), have sought to unify their positions. (Reuters/NAN)

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