Malian President Ibrahim Keita has set an official date for the country’s inclusive national dialogue to put Malians around the talking table in order to establish a new road map for the country.
The official date set for the beginning of the national talks will be December 14. It comes after several months of consultations with opinion leaders, stakeholder and local groups from all sides of the country.
Previous calls for national dialogue
Early in October, the national dialogue announced by the government met with its first resistance. Scheduled to start on Monday, 7 October, the national dialogue was boycotted by the opposition, which asked for preconditions.
The opposition was not convinced by the measures in the plan and asked for more guarantees. The former opposition minister Demba Traoré said that the plan was not a dialogue, but a forum for evaluation and proposals.
The majority of opposition parties set conditions before any participation in the process. They asked for the establishment of a joint committee: opposition, majority, civil society and then the adoption of binding resolutions, which will be binding on everyone.
A coalition of former rebels in Mali announced in September that it is withdrawing from a political dialogue meant to implement a 2015 peace agreement in the troubled West African nation. The coalition includes ethnic Arabs and Tuaregs who seek autonomy in northern Mali.
The withdrawal was the latest challenge to the implementation of the peace deal, which was signed after turmoil that began when mutinous soldiers overthrew the president in 2012. Extremists quickly exploited the power vacuum and began to destabilize the country.
The West African nation still remains under threat from extremist groups, which some of them are believed to get support from western powers. The extremists have moved from the arid north into more populated central Mali since 2015, stoking animosity and violence between ethnic groups.
A recent report to the United Nations Security Council by the panel of experts monitoring sanctions in Mali said the signatories of the peace deal have failed to accelerate its implementation as promised amid growing rivalries and popular resentment against the agreement.
The panel said the 2015 agreement has come under attack from political actors, opinion leaders, community activists and the media who say it would be “a reward to minority communities from the north that would threaten the territorial integrity of Mal and render other communities vulnerable.”
Experts have strongly expressed the need for the government of Mali to stay focused on the ongoing inclusive Inter-Malian Community and National Dialogue and Reconciliation initiatives in the country.
In addition, the government has been advised to continue with the security sector reform as well as the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process in Mali.