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Mali: UN Welcomes Accord Between Government, Tuareg Rebels

Mali: UN Envoy Welcomes Accord Between Government and Tuareg Rebels

New York, Jun 18 2013 - The United Nations envoy for Mali welcomed the signing today of an agreement between the Malian Government and Tuareg rebels that paves the way for inclusive peace talks as well as presidential elections next month.

“This is a crucial first step, it is now important that the signatories are looking to the future and continue their efforts, hand in hand, for a practical implementation of this agreement to begin immediately in a coordinated and peaceful manner,” said Bert Koenders, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Mali.

Signed by the Malian Government, the National Movement for Liberations of Azawad (MNLA) and the High Council for the Unity of Azawad, the agreement was reached after nearly two weeks of mediated talks in neighbouring Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou.

The deal comes after Northern Mali was occupied by radical Islamists when fighting broke out in January 2012 between Government forces and Tuareg rebels. The conflict displaced hundreds of thousands of people and prompted the Malian Government to request assistance from France to halt the southward march of the extremist groups.

The presidential elections next month are considered a key step in the transition process, and the UN and the European Commission have signed a financing agreement for €14.8 million in support of the electoral process.

Mr. Koenders, who also heads the recently established UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), said he was encouraged by the commitment of the parties to national reconciliation and conflict resolution through dialogue based on human rights.

“I therefore call on all Malians: from north to south, from east to west and elsewhere, to work together to achieve peace,” he said, noting that they have the full support of the international community.

While MINUSMA has been supporting the peace process since it was established in April, Mr. Koenders noted that as of 1 July and with the Security Council’s authorization next week, a large peacekeeping force will be deployed in the country.

“MINUSMA is already in Mali and will remain there to support the peace process,” he said. “I will chair an international commission to oversee the effective implementation of today's agreements, the success of which will depend on the political will of all Malian actors.”

For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news

ENDS

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