The Malian state and armed groups have decided to “integrate 26,000 ex-combatants” into the country’s regular army, which must be done “in two tranches of 13,000”. The new electoral law provides for a presidential election in February 2024.
The Malian transitional government has agreed with armed groups, signatories of an agreement for peace in the north of the country, for the integration of 26,000 ex-rebels into the Malian army, according to a government statement sent August 5 to AFP.
Signed in 2015 by the Malian government and groups of ex-rebels from the predominantly Tuareg north of the country, this 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 public service. , including within the armed forces, or their “disarmament, demobilization and reintegration” (DDR) into civilian life.
This integration should 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 Malian armed forces, combatants from the former rebellion and pro-government armed groups.
The Malian State and the armed groups have decided to “integrate 26,000 ex-combatants” into the army, indicates the government press release sent after a meeting held in Bamako all this week in the presence of the Prime Malian 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”, specifies this press release without further details, in particular on the date of the start of the operation.
The second installment will be spread “over a period of two years, in particular 2023-2024”, according to the same source. In addition, the parties agree on the “creation and operationalization of an ad hoc commission” responsible in particular for formulating proposals “for the management on a case-by-case basis of the 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. 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 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”, by going to elections. 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 poor and landlocked country in the heart of the Sahel, was shaken by two military coups in August 2020 and May 2021. The political crisis goes hand in hand with a serious security crisis that has been ongoing since 2012 and the outbreak of separatist and jihadist insurgencies in the north.