New round of talks to broker peace with Tuareg rebels

African states and Tuareg rebel groups have moved this week to end hostilities. Algeria is mediating talks between Mali and Tuareg insurgents and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has urged rebels to lay down their arms.


Mali's government has set up a special commission with former Tuareg rebels to prepare a new round of talks for late August, sources told AFP Wednesday.

The 200-strong special "appeasement and dialogue" body will prepare the talks set for August 28 to 30, said Malian and Tuareg sources. They would take place in Algeria, which is mediating between Bamako and the Tuaregs, the sources added.

"The commission is working all out to ensure that the next meeting with the rebels from 28 to 30 August will be a success," a Malian official who asked not to be identified told AFP.

A source close to Tuareg chief Ibrahim Ag Bahanga confirmed that they too were working with the commission.

One of the commission's tasks is to establish where the so-called special units of the Malian army, comprised of former Tuareg rebels and regular Malian soldiers, will be stationed.

The posting of these special units, who will be charged with managing security in Northern Mali, was one of the issues agreed upon after the last round of talks.

Bamako and the Tuaregs reached an agreement in Algiers on July 21 about the implementation of the 2006 Algiers peace accords between the parties.

Under the terms of the 2006 peace agreement, the Tuaregs were to give up their claim for regional autonomy, while the Malian government was to speed up development in the northern regions.

The Tuaregs are a nomadic desert people who have roamed the southern Sahara for centuries. In recent years they have staged uprisings in both Mali and neighbouring Niger claiming autonomy for their traditional homeland.

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