Mali will hold a “national dialogue conference” in March 2017 to discuss implementation of the peace agreement signed in mid 2015, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta said.
“An important milestone in the rehabilitation of social cohesion and living together in Mali will be fronted during the March 2017 National Conference of Understanding,” President Keïta said.
“As specified in the agreement for peace and reconciliation, this conference should allow for an in-depth debate between the components of the Malian Nation on the root causes of the conflict in northern Mali,’’’ Keita added.
The peace agreement was signed in 2015 but has faced difficulties on its implementation.
President Keïta acknowledged that the process was experiencing “delays” but assured that his government was keen on abiding by the agreement.
Northern Mali was captured by jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda in March-April 2012.
The jihadists were largely driven out of the vast region following the launch in 2013 of an international military intervention that is still ongoing.
The entire region still remains outside the control of Malian and foreign forces. The region regularly experience deadly attacks that have spread to other regions since 2015.
More than 60 U.N. peacekeepers have been killed while on active service in Mali, making it the most dangerous active deployment for the U.N. in the world.
Keïta also announced the establishment of interim authorities, which were provided for in the peace agreement, in areas where municipal elections could not be held on 20 November 2016.
“In the first quarter of 2017, the interim authorities will be installed in all the localities where communal elections could not be organized,” Keïta said.
He added that the operation will accelerate “the redeployment of the administration and facilitate the resettlement of basic social services” in the areas concerned.
Keita also indicated that he would submit a bill to the National Assembly at its next session to revise the Constitution. The bill will include the creation of a Senate.