Mali’s interim Prime Minister Moctar Ouane has created a platform in order to open talks with the Islamist militants who have wreaked havoc in the north of the country.
“Dialogue is not an exclusive solution, but rather an additional means of bringing back into the bosom of the Republic those who left it, often for existential reasons far removed from any fanaticism,” said Ouane on Friday.
He did not give any details as to who would be included in the negotiating group.
France, Mali’s former colonial power, has 5,000 troops in Mali in order to combat the ongoing insurgency. It has said in the past that it did not agree with Mali opening negotiations with insurgents who did not sign the 2015 peace deal.
One year ago then-president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said the Mali government was willing to negotiate with the Islamists. Keita was overthrown in August 2020, but national talks after the coup d’etat still continued to endorse that policy.
Violence continues in the Sahel region, and recently there were indications that it is spreading to West Africa, in Cote d’Ivoire and Benin.
France has indicated that it is mulling withdrawing troops from the region as the costly exercise to the tune of billions of euros has not been as fruitful as Paris had hoped.
Some 55 French soldiers have been killed in the Sahel.
Chad indicated last week that it will send 1,000 troops to the Niger-Burkina Faso-Mali border region in order to give some support to the French troops already there.