Tuaregs sign deal to end Mali fighting


Rival Tuareg groups on Thursday signed a peace deal in northern Mali, raising hopes of an end to years of fighting and broken ceasefires.

Senior members of the separatist CMA and their pro-government opponents known as the Platform said they settled their differences in the arid region, still reeling from a 2012 Islamist insurgency.

Past deals have fizzled as goodwill faded – though observers said they were optimistic, as the pact was signed in Bamako on Wednesday under the watch of the United Nations, government officials and international mediators.
“We assure in future we will respect all commitments made before you and the international community,” senior Platform official Fahad Ag Almahamoud said on state radio.

CMA official Bilal Ag Cherif echoed the message, saying: “all parties must respect this document in their behaviour and everyday actions”.

Rival Tuareg groups have fought over territory and politics for years. Recent clashes have complicated efforts to counter al Qaeda-linked militants who took the north in 2012 before a French-led intervention pushed them back.

The peace deal followed a temporary ceasefire agreed last month which allowed the regional governor to return to Kidal.
“This seems like a more permanent agreement following the ceasefire and could hold for now,” said Andrew Lebovich, of the European Council on Foreign Relations. “It depends on the internal calculations of each group and if people are simply using the agreement to rebuild their forces.”