Mali Government, Rebels Sign Ceasefire Deal

Bamako, May 24 (QNA) – The Mali government signed a ceasefire deal with three rebel groups in the northern desert last night, the African Union’s negotiator announced.

“We have just signed an agreement which opens the way for a ceasefire,” Mauritanian President and African Union chairman Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz said on Mali public television after brokering the deal.

“The deal comes into effect with the signature of all parties,” he said, after first the rebel group in Kidal agreed and later Interior Minister Sada Samake signed on behalf of the government in Bamako.

Abdel Aziz cut short a visit to Rwanda to hold the urgent ceasefire talks with the Tuareg rebels groups: the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUC) and the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA). He was accompanied by Bert Koenders, the head of the local UN mission MINUSMA.

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita praised the work of his Mauritanian counterpart in securing the deal.

“All day he negotiated. He convinced our brothers… that there is no alternative to peace and the negotiating table,” he said.

Bamako and the rebel group agreed to release prisoners as soon as possible, to facilitate UN humanitarian efforts “and to respect the principles of human rights,” MINUSMA said.

They also agreed to setting up an international commission of enquiry to look into the country?s recent troubles. (QNA)

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