Mali’s Tuareg-led alliance rebels agreed to sign a peace deal with Malian government on Saturday, ending years of unrest which claimed thousands of lives from both sides.
The deal has been brokered by Algeria and signed by the rebel Coordination of Movements of Azawad (CMA) which had been holding to ink a document signed by the government and loyalist militias due to disagreements on some articles, such as the return of refugees, security arrangements, and development plans for their region in the north.
In January 2013, France launched a United Nations-backed military intervention to drive Al Qaeda-linked militants from towns in northern Mali that they had seized in 2012. The militants have since mounted an insurgency targeting the Malian army and the UN troops.
Algeria hosted months of talks between the rebel groups and Mali government but the rebel groups had refused to sign a peace proposal which was supposed be finalised on May 15.
"Peace is never won solely by a single signature but born from the respect of the engagements undertaken with that signature and by the political will of the parties concerned," said a CMA representative Mahamadou Djeri Maiga during the signing ceremony.
Mongi Hamdi, a special envoy of the UN Secretary General, said the peacekeeping mission will provide 11,000 troops to help the implementation of the deal.
Since its inception in 2013, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has lost 40 peacekeepers in total.