Observers fear that a merger between disparate former rebel groups will further complicate Mali’s stalled peace process.The various components of the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) have decided to operate under a single banner on Wednesday 8 February.
This was during a ceremony that took place in a packed stadium in Kidal, a locality in the north of Mali that they have controlled for almost a decade.
Since 2019, during various meetings they have held, the former CMA rebels have repeatedly expressed their desire to merge their armed movements into a single political-military entity.
The Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) – one of the three parties that signed the 2015 peace agreement – had three main components within it.
These are the National Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MNLA), the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA) and the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA).
The declaration for a merger was signed by the Secretaries General of the three respective armed movements, Bilal Ag Acherif, Alghabass Ag Intalla and Ibrahim Ould Handa.
In so doing, these leaders admit the dissolving their armed movements in favour of a single politico-military entity.
For the moment, no name has been given to the bloc nor has its emblems and flag decided.
The name of the person who will be in charge of the political and military wing of this new structure and the duration of his or her mandate have yet to be determined.
Prior to the merger, the CMA’s components had their own autonomy to manage and make decisions on all levels.
They were mainly organised as a grouping with an executive bureau whose president is appointed for a non-renewable six-month term and a chief of staff who is supposed to serve for one year.
The current president of this coordination was the secretary general of the HCUA, Alghabass Ag Intalla.
The latter recently appointed a new chief of staff in the person of Colonel Hamad Rhissa Ag Mohamed, who had as his deputy Alhousseini Ag Ahmedou.
These people will remain in place until the establishment of the organs of this new politico-military entity, which is planned to take place during a congress to be held soon.
The initiators have also extended an invitation to armed movements that are members of other groupings involved in the process, such as the Platform and Inclusivity, to join their project.
Algiers accord still holding?
Observers fear that this new development will further complicate the peace process, which is currently at a standstill because of the decision taken last December by the ex-rebels to suspend their participation in the various mechanisms for implementing the agreement.
They conditioned the lifting of this suspension on the holding of an ‘emergency meeting’ on ‘neutral ground’ with the international mediation led by Algeria to assess the agreement signed in 2015, the implementation of which has been slow.
The international mediation accepted this initiative, but wanted to extend it to the other signatories of the agreement, such as the Platform of 14 June 2014 and the Malian authorities.
The latter, through junta leader Colonel Assimi Goïta, refused to participate in any meeting on the peace agreement outside Mali.
With this situation, many fear an imminent resumption of hostilities between the signatories of the peace agreement, as each side strengthens its military positions on the ground.