Mali’s interim government and northern armed groups have signed an agreement paving the way for presidential elections next month.
Mali’s interim government and northern armed groups have signed an agreement paving the way for presidential elections next month in the entirety of Malian territory.
The accord, signed June 18 in Burkina Faso, follows lengthy talks mediated by that country’s president, Blaise Compaore, and is supported by Mali’s neighbors and the international community.
The United States commends both parties for their commitment toward a peaceful solution to the crisis and hopes the discussions pave the way for an inclusive, long-term reconciliation process following the election of a new government.
The agreement calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities and the return of Malian troops and civil administration officials to the key northern town of Kidal, occupied by rebels since February, 2012. This will allow presidential elections to be carried out throughout Mali on July 28.
Mali’s former president, Amadu Toumani Toure, was deposed in a military coup in March 2012, following a Tuareg rebellion which seized most of northern Mali. These rebel groups were then forced out of many areas in the north by Islamic extremists. French intervention in January 2013 supported the interim Malian government and re-conquered most of the North. Tuareg rebels, though, maintained control of the sparsely populated, but symbolically important Kidal region.
The July 28 election is meant to restore democratic rule to Mali, but rebels still holding Kidal prevented the return of Government authorities, key to the organizing and holding of elections there. The lack of a government presence prevented the return of public services, vital to the populations in the region. It also prevented preparations for elections security, which would impede the ability of citizens in Kidal to vote. These problems and their significance for the nation’s territorial integrity now appear to have been solved.
As an active participant in the international community’s efforts to support Mali to date, the United States looks forward to joining our international partners in the important task of overseeing the implementation of the agreement and urges parties to execute the agreement without delay. We also applaud President Compaore’s leadership and the support of the United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States, the African Union and others in the negotiations process.