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Strife Threatens Mali Peace Process


FILE - MINUSMA peacekeepers stand guard in front of the governor's office in Kidal, Mali.

An attack on government officials visiting the city of Kidal in northern Mali risks renewing a bitter conflict that tore the West African nation apart in 2012.

An attack on government officials visiting the city of Kidal in northern Mali risks renewing a bitter conflict that tore the West African nation apart in 2012. The United States condemns the violence, which undermines the peace process there and efforts to bring security and development to all of Mali’s citizens.

Malian Prime Minister Moussa Mara had traveled to Kidal on May 17 when fighters from the separatist Tuareg group the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, known by its French initials as the MNLA, seized the governor’s office there, killing at least 36 people, including eight Malian soldiers, and injuring civilians and United Nations peacekeepers. The MNLA fighters also took approximately 30 low-ranking government officials hostage, but they have since been released. Prime Minister Mara was uninjured and has now returned to the Malian capital Bamako.

Under an agreement struck last year, Mali’s government and separatist groups agreed to hold talks to establish a sustainable peace in the north. The negotiations have stalled, however, as both government troops and rebel soldiers have maintained a presence in Kidal, a stronghold for the MNLA.

The United States calls on the MNLA to return the governor’s residence, respect a cease fire and urges all parties to refrain from further violence and any acts that place civilians at risk. For its part, the government should step up efforts on reconciliation that to date have lacked focus and energy. In addition, we encourage all parties to exercise restraint and to advance negotiations in order to establish a durable peace for all Malians.
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