Mali President Eyes Amnesties Under ‘National Consensus’ Law

 

Mali’s President, Ibrahim Keita

Mali will adopt a law on “national consensus” that may amnesty rebels who took part in a revolt in 2012, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said in a New Year’s speech.

Keita, in a nationwide message late Sunday, said the law would draw on a so-called charter for peace, unity and national reconciliation, which he received in June as the outcome of a two-year-old peace pact between the government and Tuareg rebels aimed at shoring up Mali’s shaky security.

The “draft law on national consensus… (will) include exemption from prosecution for all those who are implicated in armed rebellion but who do not have blood on their hands,” he said.

It will also include “measures of conciliation”, he said.

These will be implemented after trials that are currently underway are fast-tracked to the conclusion, and after compensation for victims is speeded up.

Ideas include a programme to rehabilitate “all those who lay down their weapons and publicly undertake to renounce violence,” Keita said.

But he insisted the package is “neither a reward for impunity nor an avowal of weakness, and even less a denial of right for the victims.”

“It offers the possibility for reintegration for all those who let themselves be carried away by armed conflict, who have not committed unacceptable acts and who show sincere repentance,” he said.

Northern Mali was overrun in March and April 2012 after al-Qaeda-linked jihadists hijacked a rebellion by ethnic Tuareg groups.

A French-led military intervention in 2013 rolled back the jihadist threat.

However, the region remains highly unstable, prompting France and the United Nations to maintain a high military profile, and a peace deal with the Tuaregs signed in 2015 is still shaky.

Keita’s speech came on the heels of a government reshuffle, and ahead of presidential elections this year.

He has appointed a new prime minister, Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, who is viewed as a loyalist, and installed 36 new ministers, including a new foreign minister.

AFP

Mali President Fires Defense Minister After Gunmen Seize Village

maliMali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has fired Defence Minister Tieman Hubert Coulibaly after suspected Islamist militants briefly seized the village of Boni in the center of the country on Friday, state television said late on Saturday.

Coulibaly is being replaced by Abdoulaye Idrissa Maiga, a former minister for territorial administration, who was also the president’s campaign director at the 2013 election.

The attackers, who are suspected of belonging to the Ansar Dine group, burned public buildings and took an elected local official hostage before withdrawing after a few hours. No one was killed and the army is back in control, witnesses said.

The raid was the latest in a series this year in Mali, reflecting a rise in the power of Islamist groups that have spread a campaign of violence from the north to the center of the country only a few hundreds miles from the capital Bamako.

Armed groups have proliferated since Islamists took advantage of an ethnic Tuareg uprising in 2012 to seize the north of the desert country.

A French-led intervention drove Islamists back in 2013 but instability has continued and undermines a fragile U.N.-backed peace process.

Islamist militants killed 17 Malian soldiers and wounded 35 when they attacked an army base in the central Malian town of Nampala in July. Ansar Dine and a Peul ethnic militia both claimed responsibility for that attack.

Jonathan Gets Highest Honour In Mali

President Goodluck Jonathan has been conferred with the Grand Crois of the Nationale by the interim president Diangunda Traore in the presidential villa, and it is said to be the highest honour of the Republic of Mali.

Before decorating the President Jonathan, the visiting interim president said the honour was for Jonathan’s pivotal role in the restoration of peace and security in that country.

Professor Traore described the crisis as one that shook the entire nation for many months and thanked the Nigerian president for not hesitating in sending human, financial and material resources to rescue his nation.

In his response, President Jonathan said that what he did was a confirmation of the commitment of Nigeria to conflict resolution in the African continent.

He said that inspite of the loss, Nigeria remains committed in supporting the course of peace in Mali.

The President also congratulated Mali’s President-elect, Mr. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on his victory in last Sunday’s run-off Presidential election in the country.

He commended the people of Mali for successfully conducting the elections and taking a major step towards the full restoration of democratic governance to their country and that he is looking forward to the conclusion of the process with Mr. Keita’s inauguration as President in keeping with the wish of the Malian people as expressed at the polls on Sunday.

The President said he believes that for Mr. Keita to have served as Prime Minister capably for many years, Mr. Keita will assume the Malian Presidency with the requisite experience, knowledge and wisdom needed to guide the country towards a speedy return to peace, normalcy, political stability and further development.

President Jonathan assured Mr. Keita of the support, assistance and cooperation of Nigeria, ECOWAS and the African Union as he prepares to assume the burden of leading Mali away from political strife and instability, to national peace and progress.

He wished the Malian President-elect a very successful tenure in office.