The Malian state and armed groups have decided to “integrate 26,000 ex-combatants” into the army, indicates a government statement issued on Friday August 5, following a meeting held in Bamako throughout this week in the presence of the Malian Prime Minister, Choguel Kokalla Maïga, representatives of armed groups and of Algeria.
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This integration must be done “in two tranches of 13,000 [ex-combattants], the first of which is distributed according to the quota having been the subject of a consensus between the two parties”, says this press release without further details, in particular on the date of the start of the operation. The second tranche will be spread “over a period of two years, in particular 2023 and 2024”, according to the same source.
“Creation of an ad hoc committee”
In addition, the parties agree to the “creation and [de] the operationalization of an ad hoc commission” responsible in particular for formulating proposals “for the case-by-case management of senior civilian and military executives of the signatory movements”, for their integration into “the chain of command”. This commission must be set up “as soon as possible”, says the text.
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A spokesperson for the Coordination of Movements of Azawad (CMA), the former Tuareg-dominated rebellion, said his movement had “accepted the government’s offer” to set up this commission and “talk about the problem of the chain of command” within the future reconstituted national army. “The question obviously concerns our officers. What will be their place in the next army. Until this problem is resolved, we cannot speak of significant progress,” Almou Ag Mohamed said on Friday.
The Algiers Peace Accord
Signed in 2015 by the Malian government and groups of ex-rebels from the predominantly Tuareg north of the country, the so-called Algiers peace agreement provides for a process of cantonment of combatants from the signatory movements with a view to their integration into the function public, including within the armed forces, or their “disarmament, demobilization and reintegration” (DDR) into civilian life.
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This integration must lead to a restructured national army, more representative of the populations of the North in particular. This army must then be gradually redeployed in the main cities of the North in the form of mixed battalions made up in equal ratio of the Malian armed forces, combatants from the former rebellion and pro-government armed groups.
Indispensable for a way out of the crisis
The implementation of the Algiers agreement, with its provisions for the integration of ex-combatants, as well as the restoration of the authority of the State, are considered as essential political components for a way out of the crisis in Mali, in addition to purely military action. Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune on July 31 called on the military in power in Mali to apply the Algiers agreement and return to legality “as soon as possible”, going towards elections.
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Mali’s ruling colonels caved in early July to demands by West African states for a civilian return to power, publishing a new electoral law and timetable that includes a presidential election in February 2024. Mali, a landlocked country at the heart of the Sahel, was rocked by two military coups, in August 2020 and May 2021. The political crisis goes hand in hand with a serious ongoing security crisis since 2012 and the outbreak of independence and jihadist insurgencies in the north from pays.