Mali officials and Tuareg rebels hold talks

August 31, 2008

ALGIERS (AFP) -- Malian officials and Tuareg rebels agreed Friday in Algiers to begin implementing a recently-signed peace accord and to resume peace talks in early September, APS said.

Diplomatic sources said ""a consensus"" was reached between Bamako and the Tuaregs on ways to ""reestablish confidence and create favorable conditions for resuming dialogue in the near future on substantial questions,"" the Algerian news agency reported.
The meeting, which took place Thursday and Friday, focused on consolidating a July 21 peace agreement that Algeria brokered between Bamako and the Tuaregs. That agreement aims to put into effect the 2006 Algiers peace accord to end hostilities between the parties.
Under the peace deal, the Tuaregs were to give up their claim for regional autonomy, while the Malian government was to speed up development in the northern regions.
This week, both sides agreed on ""the creation of conditions favorable to the liberation of detainees, the return of displaced people and the clearing of mines,"" according to APS.
At least 28 Malian soldiers and three police officers were freed by the Tuaregs since the July peace agreement.
Negotiators also agreed that the circumstances surrounding the deaths of some members of the Tuareg rebellion would be brought to light, APS reported.
The two sides will reportedly resume negotiations by September 10.
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 neighboring Niger claiming autonomy for their traditional homeland.