Foreign

Mali, France at odds over talks with militants

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Mali’s interim prime minister said on Monday he was open to talks with militants whose insurgency has made vast swathes of the country ungovernable, but former colonial power France signalled opposition to the idea.

Moctar Ouane said this at a news conference in Bamako with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian who is on a two-day visit to the country.

Ousted former President Ibrahim Keita said earlier this year that his government was prepared to negotiate with al Qaeda-linked militants.

National talks in the aftermath of the August coup that overthrew Keita endorsed that policy.

Malian officials have provided few specifics about what kinds of compromises could emerge, but some proponents of negotiations have said they could include recognition of a greater role for Islam in public life.

Ouane, who was appointed interim prime minister in September to manage an 18-month transition after the Aug. 18 coup that toppled Keita, said his government was prepared to pursue talks.

“The conclusions of the inclusive national talks … very clearly indicated the necessity of an offer of dialogue with these armed groups,” Ouane said.

“We need to see in that an opportunity to engage in far-reaching discussions with the communities in order to redefine the contours of a new governance of the areas that are concerned,” he said.

Le Drian, however, indicated he was opposed, noting that the militant groups had not signed a 2015 peace deal that it considers a framework for restoring peace to northern Mali.

“Let’s say things very clearly: there are peace accords … and then there are terrorist groups that have not signed the peace accords,” Le Drian said. “It is simple.”

France has more than 5,000 troops in Mali and neighbouring countries in West Africa’s Sahel region to fight the militants, against whom it first intervened in 2013.

But the militants, many with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State, have grown stronger in recent years, stepping into vacuums left by weakened state authorities.

Edited By: Fatima Sule/Sadiya Hamza
Source: NAN

Fatima Sule

Fatima Sule: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a media subscriber of the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.ng. Disclaimer.

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