Mali, Algiers Agreement under scrutiny

The Monitoring Committee of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, on Thursday, held a meeting in Kidal to…

The Monitoring Committee of the Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, on Thursday, held a meeting in Kidal to try to untangle this process.The moment is historic and the place symbolic. Kidal, this town in northern Mali is still controlled by the former rebels grouped together in a Coordination of the Azawad Movements (CMA) which signed with the Malian government in 2015, a peace agreement reached some time earlier in Algiers.

In this bastion of Tuareg nationalists, a meeting of the Monitoring Committee of the Peace Agreement resulting from the so-called Algiers process could not be organized in September 2019. But on February 11, the Malian State and its foreign partners, as well as the signatory parties to the famous agreement were able to discuss this consensual text meant to bring peace to Mali. This document provides, among other things, for the integration of ex-rebels into the defense and security forces and for greater autonomy for this region.

Enforcing the agreement seems easier said than done. But the reopening of the peace process in Kidal is “a sign of hope,” according to Colonel-Major Ismael Wague, Malian Minister of National Reconciliation in the transitional government set up in Bamako, the capital, in the wake of the overthrow by the Army, on August 18, of controversial President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (IBK).

The former spokesman for the putschists also indicated that the transitional authorities intend to implement the Algiers Accord. However, this is conditional on the success of the new “disarmament, demobilization and reintegration” process, after which “several hundred ex-rebels” are expected to join the ranks of the army.

For his part, the former Deputy Secretary General of the UN, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah of Mauritania, declared that “it is time to harmonize and coordinate, if possible, the points of view to help Mali and the Sahel come out of a crisis, which is very expensive.”

The former senior UN official, now head of the Center for Strategy and Security in the Sahel-Sahara (Center 4s), a think-tank based in Nouakchott, clearly advocates a “change of approach” in the management of this conflict.

To overcome the pitfalls, several observers agree on the need for an overhaul of the so-called Algiers Accord. This is the point of view always defended by Nicolas Normand, former French ambassador to Mali and Senegal. According to Mr. Normand, “the situation is all the more problematic as the Algiers Accord does not address, for the future, the real causes of the rebellion in the North.”

Speaking by videoconference, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, considered that Thursday’s discussions in Kidal are “quite a symbol,” hailing the “positive dynamics” of the peace process in Mali.

The Kidal meeting took place four days before the G5 Sahel Summit scheduled for February 15 and 16 in Ndjamena, Chad. French President Emmanuel Macron will not make the trip and will participate in the debates by videoconference. In the Chadian capital, France, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger will review the security situation that prevails in Mali, as well as in the rest of the Sahel.