Voice of America (Washington, DC)

18 June 2013

Mali Officials, Tuareg Rebels Sign Accord

The Malian government and Tuareg rebels occupying a key northern city signed an accord Tuesday paving the way for presidential elections in the ... ( Resource: Peace Deal Paves Way for Mali Election

Mali's government has signed a deal with Tuareg rebels that will allow the army to return to a key rebel-held city ahead of next month's elections.

The deal was signed Tuesday in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, in the presence of Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore, who served as mediator.

Tuareg group MNLA currently occupies the city of Kidal, the only major population center in northern Mali under rebel control.

According to media reports Tuesday, the new accord says Malian security forces and civilian officials can return to Kidal before the July 28 presidential election. It also calls for the rebels to be disarmed.

The MNLA is fighting for an independent Tuareg state in northern Mali. The group seized control of Kidal after French and African forces drove Islamist militants out of the region's cities earlier this year.

The July 28 election is meant to restore democracy in Mali.

Soldiers toppled the president in March 2012, allowing the MNLA and the militants to take control of the north. The Islamist groups pushed aside the MNLA a few months later.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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