By Heba Girgis
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
BAMAKO, Mali—Representatives of al-Qaida-linked groups that currently control northern Mali arrived yesterday in Burkina Faso for negotiation with President Compaore who is trying to mediate a solution to the conflict between the groups and the rest of the country. These negotiations reveal that the country’s government is now willing to negotiate with this armed group known for its connection with the terror network chapter in Africa rather than resort to military force.
The senior mediators in this crisis are trying to convince one of the groups, Ansar Dine, to cut ties with al-Qaida’s North Africa Branch. President Compaore hopes to remind the group that it “must disengage from terror and organized crime,” and “return to the political process.” The President who is the officially appointed mediator in the Economic Community of West African States decided that pushing these negotiation talks is a better way to try to resolve this crisis rather than using military force.
Ansar Dine has destroyed ancient shrines in Timbuktu and has applied its harsh interpretations of Islamic law in other areas under its control. In enforcing its laws, the group has stoned to death and whipped transgressors and has forced woman to remain covered.
The leader of Ansar Dine, Iyad Ag Ghaly, said that he would be ready to “officially distance himself from al-Qaida in the Islamist Maghreb and play ‘the democracy game.’”
The group’s head delegate Algabass Ag Intalla also noted that, “Ansar Dine is independent from any other group,” and is “ready to negotiate for peace.” He also added that he is prepared to meet the Malian minister “if the mediator wants it.”
Another source close to this extremist group sent delegation to Algiers as well articulating the position that the group is in favor of peace and that dialogue is necessary for peace. The source further acknowledges that that is the reason why they have set up these various delegates and will also be making a stop in Nigeria to discuss peace negotiations.
On October 12, 2012, the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution urging a joint African Union military force to speed up the preparations for a force of more than 3,000 troops in order to attempt to recapture the occupied northern region of Mali. However, it looks as though this resolution is on hold during these peace talks.
For further information, please see:
Fox News – Al-Qaida-Linked Group in Burkina Faso, Algeria for Mediation Talks – 4 November 2012
The Times of India – Mediators Push Mali Islamists to Cut Al-Qaida Ties – 4 November 2012
Middle East Online – Drums of War Push Mali Islamists Toward Dialogue – 3 November 2012
San Francisco Chronicle – Al-Qaida Linked Group in Burkina Faso For Talks – 3 November 2012