- Title: MALI-VIOLENCE/UN Tuareg secessionists reject UN help following clashes
- Date: 18th August 2015
- Summary: KIDAL, MALI (FILE) (REUTERS) ***WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** UNITED NATIONS PLANE VARIOUS OF UN DIRECTING TRUCKS NORTHERN MALI (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF MALI TROOPS ON BACK OF TRUCKS DRIVING THROUGH CITY BAMAKO, MALI (FILE - JUNE 20 2015) (ORIGINAL 4:3) (REUTERS) WIDE OF PEACE ACCORD BETWEEN TUAREG LED REBELS AND THE MALIAN GOVERNMENT SIGNING CEREMONY VARIOUS OF CEREMONY AUDIENCE VARIOUS OF AZAWAD MOVEMENTS (CMA) REPRESENTATIVE, SIDI BRAHIM OULD SIDATI, SIGNING PEACE DEAL SIGNED DOCUMENT MALI'S PRESIDENT IBRAHIM BOUBACAR KEÏTA HUGGING ATTENDEE
- Embargoed: 2nd September 2015 13:00
- Location: Mali
- Country: Mali
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVAEMDA2HOOPRYOZ9LNCZ42G672F
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL WHICH WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
Mali's U.N. peacekeeping mission deployed troops around a northern separatist stronghold on Tuesday (August 18), seeking to prevent an escalation of clashes between rebels and pro-government militias that threaten to torpedo a June peace accord.
The mainly Tuareg secessionist Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) and pro-Bamako Platform militias have both signed up to the deal, which aims to pacify the north and allow the Malian army to focus on tackling Islamist militants.
The U.N. mission, MINUSMA, said in a statement: "These acts constitute a flagrant violation of the ceasefire and the peace accord."
The two sides have traded blame for starting the violence which has centred on a road axis in the northern Kidal region.
On Monday, Platform fighters seized the town of Anefis from the CMA, raising fears that they would then advance on the town of Kidal, the region's largest population centre and the CMA's main stronghold.
MINUSMA called on both sides to immediately return to the positions they occupied on August 15, and said it was putting in place a security zone extending 20 km (12 miles) around Kidal to prevent an expansion of the violence and protect civilians.
The CMA leadership in Kidal blamed the United Nations mission in Mali (MINUSMA) for failing to secure peace and said they were not wanted in Kidal.
"MINUSMA's decision is not right because Kidal doesn't need MINUSMA's security because Kidal protects itself. The agents who wanted Kidal are now dead in Edjerere (Amassine) and there were 20 prisoners who were defeated. The places that really need MINUSMA are Meneka, Annefis, Edelimene, Tin Himma, and Tin Fadimata; it is there that civilians are suffering from the presence of the army and militias, but MINUSMA isn't helping," said the secretary of the CMA president, Mohamoud Ag Ghaly, in Kidal.
"MINUSMA is looking for pretexts because it is following its own vision in different contexts. We understand MINUSMA's decision and Kidal doesn't need MINUSMA's safety. MINUSMA's aid needs to be where there the Tin Fadimata and Meneka population are. We just don't understand and it all doesn't make any sense," he added.
CMA fighters have been guarding Kidal, setting up checkpoints in the city and lookouts on the outskirts.
In the city, one resident blamed the other side for starting the latest attacks.
"My personal opinion is that MINUSMA didn't try to respect the ceasefires that were signed and also didn't try to find a solution to the militia problems because it is now the third or fourth time that the militants violate the ceasefire. The population is worried about their security, but we concluded that MINUSMA cannot ensure the security of the population. I think it's a problem that needs to be solved. As for the town of Kidal, I think the town doesn't need to be protected. It is peace that needs to be protected, not the town of Kidal because it doesn't need MINUSMA's protection," said Inkinane Ag Hamadahmad.
In the statement, MINUSMA said they would take appropriate action if Platform elements or those affiliated to them violated the security zone around Kidal.
There are over 9,000 UN peacekeepers in Mali, 90 percent of them in the north. The U.N. force did not specify how many troops were deployed around the stronghold.
No clashes were reported on Tuesday. A Reuters witness inside Kidal said CMA fighters were reinforcing positions around the town and deploying heavy weapons against a possible attack.
Neighbouring Niger was due to begin hosting talks on Wednesday (August 19) to ease tensions between the two sides.
MINUSMA on Monday (August 17) threatened to apply targeted sanctions against those found to be behind the violence.
The warring sides signed a peace accord in Bamako, following talks in Algeria, in June this year. The latest violence and an increase in attacks over the last few weeks threatens that peace accord.
The West African nation is seeking to break a decades-long cycle of Tuareg uprisings, the most recent of which allowed Islamist groups, some linked to al Qaeda, to seize the desert north in 2012.
A French-led intervention a year later scattered the Islamists but failed to eradicate them, and Islamist violence is once more on the rise and expanding further south.
The UN last week said they were in the north to secure the peace deal but also to ultimately hand over full control to Mali's military forces.
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