Two armed groups to fight insecurity in central Mali

BAMAKO (AFP) – Two armed groups in the lawless Menaka region of central Mali signed an accord last Sunday to join forces to fight insecurity, stepping in where government and international efforts have largely failed.

The accord came the day before French President Emmanuel Macron and five African counterparts including the Malian president were to meet in Pau, in south-western France.

Menaka, like other parts of central and northern Mali, has been beset by extremist, inter-ethnic and criminal violence since conflict broke out in the north of the West African state in 2012.

Rivalry among armed groups has exacerbated the insecurity.

Despite a deepening humanitarian crisis, aid groups suspended operations in December after suffering repeated breaks-ins.

Last Sunday’s accord was signed by the Platform and the Coordination of Movements of Azawad (CMA), two coalitions of armed groups that signed a peace accord with the Bamako government in 2015. CMA is an alliance of mainly Tuareg former rebel groups, while the platform is made up of pro-government armed groups.

They agreed to the “total and immediate cessation of hostile acts (and) the protection of people and their goods” in the areas under their control.

The two groups also agreed to clamp down on the circulation of weapons, to set up joint patrols and to create or reopen checkpoints.