The Malian government and armed groups in the country’s Northern Kidal region have signed a preliminary peace agreement in Ouagadougou.
The agreement comes as Liberian troops were preparing to leave for Mali to assist the Africa International Support Mission in Mali. The mission was authorized under UN Security Council Resolution 2085, adopted on December 20, 2012, which “authorized the deployment of an African-led International Support Mission in Mali for an initial period of one year.”
European leaders welcomed the announcement of a peace agreement, with European Union Foreign Affairs representative, Catherine Ashton saying:
“This agreement is of historic significance. It is a crucial step in the process of building peace through dialogue.
“I pay tribute to the determination of the statesmen and the groups’ representatives who have reached this agreement. I would also like to express my gratitude for the mediation provided by President Compaoré and the other international actors involved alongside him.”
The agreement was signed for the government by colonel Moussa Sinko Coulibaly, and by Bilal Ag Acherif and Algabass Ag Intalla on behalf of Mouvement national de libération de l’Azawad (MNLA) and Haut conseil pour l’unité de l’Azawad (HCUA).
As lead mediator in the negotiations, the president of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré, also signed the document.
The Malian national army will now return to Kidal and Tuareg. The return of national soldiers will be accompanied by the UN MINUSMA mission, which will absorb the African force (MISMA) from July, and the French operation Serval.
Disarmament of rebel groups will commence after the presidential election following a comprehensive and final peace settlement.