Mali's government and Tuareg nomads fighting for greater autonomy have agreed to a truce after talks brokered by Algeria. Both sides pledged to address remaining issues, including the fate of prisoners and refugees in the country's north.
Mali's government and Tuareg rebels reached a ceasefire agreement on Monday to end almost a year of sporadic clashes in the country's vast northern desert, Algeria's official APS news agency said.
The truce came after four days of talks in the Algerian capital between government envoys and members of the rebel Democratic Alliance for Change mediated by Algeria's ambassador to Mali, Abdelkrim Ghrib.
"The two delegations representing the government of Mali and the Democratic Alliance for Change reached on Monday in Algiers an agreement on the cessation of hostilities," APS quoted Ghrib as saying.
"We reached a series of decisions including the need to stop hostilities between the two conflicting parties and ensure the enforcement on the ground and monitoring of this (ceasefire)".
A team of 200 members representing both parties was set up to oversee the implementation of the agreement, APS said.
Ghrib said the parties had stressed the need to address remaining issues such as the fate of refugees, prisoners on both sides and families who had sought refuge in the border region.
Mali, Africa's third-biggest gold producer, has struggled to end the escalating rebellion by the Tuareg nomads who took up arms last year demanding greater rights for their people.
Tuareg live in various countries across the Sahara.
Mali's army, backed and trained by the United States as part of Washington's "war on terrorism", accuses the rebels of trying to control cross-border smuggling routes for arms and drugs.
The conflict follows similar rebellions in the 1960s and 1990s by the Tuareg, who traditionally oppose inference from outsiders.
The new round of talks in Algiers followed the failure of a recent ceasefire deal mediated by the Gaddafi Foundation, a charitable organisation chaired by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam.
The Algiers talks aimed to ensure that all parties in the conflict respect commitments made in a 2006 Algerian-brokered deal for the Kidal region in northeast Mali, APS quoted a diplomatic source as saying on Sunday.
That agreement involved several clauses including an economic development plan for Kidal. Ghrib said the latest ceasefire honoured the spirit of the 2006 agreement.
Date created : 2008-07-21