Mali\’s government and armed groups which signed a 2015 peace deal have relaunched talks aimed at speeding up its implementation after several delays, they told AFP Saturday.
The accord signed in 2015 aimed at curbing separatist uprisings in Mali\’s north after a 2012 rebellion was hijacked by jihadists, throwing the nation into chaos.
But several of its key planks have yet to be fully implemented, while jihadists continue to roam the north and centre of the country, despite being ousted from key northern towns by a French-led military intervention in 2013.
Malian lawmaker Mohamed Ould Matali said the government, the armed groups which support it — known as the "Platform" — and the former rebels of the Coordination of Movements of Azawad (CMA) had sat down for talks.
"It went well. We recognised that things are dragging and have fixed a new timeline to implement the peace deal," he told AFP.
Ilad Ag Mohamed, representing the former rebel alliance, confirmed the new timeline and said several dates had been set for rolling out key measures of the deal.
Mixed patrols between pro-government armed groups and the former rebels in the northern city of Kidal, where the army does not have a presence for security reasons, would be organised by July 20, he said.
Meanwhile the putting into place of remaining so-called "interim authorities," bodies supposed to pave the way for elections to be held when security improves, would be done by the end of July, he added.
Kidal is still in the hands of the former rebels, and when asked when the Malian state would return to the area, Ag Mohamed said the "lines would move" by July 20. He said a technical team would meet next week on how to facilitate the return of populations who fled when the city was taken over.
The office of prime minister Abdoulaye Idrissa Maiga confirmed he had attended the meeting and that there was "common agreement" on the points discussed.
Mali on Wednesday delayed a constitutional referendum due to be held on July 9 in the face of heavy political opposition and street protests, as detractors said such a vote could not be held safely and democratically in the country\’s north.