Malian Touareg rebels pulled out of a peace accord signed in June with the West African nation’s government, accusing it of failing to respect the terms of the cease-fire.
The decision, made on Sept. 18, also results from “the continuation of arbitrary arrests” and the government’s failure to release political detainees, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad said in a statement published on the news website abamako.com today. Two other separatist groups in northern Mali signed the statement from Ouagadougou, the capital of neighboring Burkina Faso.
Ethnic Touareg rebels and the Malian government signed a preliminary peace deal in June which put in place a truce and enabled the Malian army to enter Kidal, a rebel stronghold, 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) north of the capital, Bamako. It also paved the way for presidential elections in July and August. Under the June agreement, further talks were to be held within 60 days of the election.
Former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita won an Aug. 11 runoff vote and became president more than a year after the military led a March 2012 coup in response to a lack of government support in the battle against rebels. French forces intervened in January to restore order after the Touaregs joined Islamist militants in an offensive that almost split the nation. Keita was sworn in on Sept. 4.
Mali vies with Tanzania as Africa’s third-biggest gold producer.
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