Malians divided on how to tackle conflict in north as Tuareg rebels capture key town
Tuareg rebels have reportedly seized control of a military camp and posts in northern Mali from army and Wagner mercenaries, threatening to unravel a 2015 peace deal, sparking a polarizing debate in the capital city Bamako over whether the government should consider restarting or increasing dialogue with armed groups.
There has been a resurgence of deadly violence in northern Mali in recent weeks involving attacks by Islamist militants on civilians and security forces. The surge in violence comes as UN peacekeeping forces vacate their bases ahead of their full withdrawal at the end of the year.
Tuareg rebels in Mali’s north claimed in a statement earlier this week to have captured “the camp and various advanced posts” from the army and the allied Russian paramilitary group Wagner around the key town of Bourem, between Gao and Timbuktu, before pulling out, fueling concerns of the collapse of the 2015 peace deal between the alliance of predominantly Tuareg armed groups and the Malian government.
The fragile 2015 peace deal came under strain after the civilian government was toppled in 2020 and replaced by a junta. One of its signatories, the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), on Monday (11 September) said it considered itself at “war” with the ruling junta.
Amid the escalating violence in Mali’s north, some people in Bamako are reported as saying the government should consider restarting or increasing dialogue with armed groups. They view negotiations better than fighting because neither side has anything to gain. Others, however, suggest that the Malian government forces should be prepared for war and ready to confront the rebels in the north of the country.