Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is confident that his government and the rebels in the north will achieve sustainable peace in the near future. Rebels have taken up the struggle again and made territorial gains.
In an exclusive interview with DW while on a visit to Washington for the US-Africa summit, President Keita said his government was committed to negotiating a peaceful solution with Tuareg separatists after rebels and Al-Qaeda-linked militants overran much of the north in 2012.
DW: In northern Mali battles have flared up again. What impact will this have on the peace talks scheduled for August?
IBK: I hope no effect. We and the armed groups this time are determined to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable agreement. Nothing will stop us.
What would be the most important cornerstones of a sustainable peace in Mali? Would it mean more autonomy for the north of the country?
I say quite clearly: no independence, no autonomy but a high degree of decentralization and regionalization. That is what we will do. Nowadays, there are many strategies on how to deal with the concepts of federalism and autonomy. Look at what is happening in Iraq, it is a caliphate. And with all my strength I want to prevent a caliphate in Mali. That's why I was elected.
You met with US President Barack Obama in Washington, what message did you have for him?
That he should continue to take an active interest in Africa. In addition, I thanked him warmly for having hosted the very first summit between Africa and the United States. This was a historic event. We look forward to a continuation of such meetings. They are very helpful and mutually beneficial for both continents. The United States has a lot to offer Africa. We hope that from that summit there will be a new impetus for our cooperation.
Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was elected president of Mali in September, 2013.
Interview: Gero Schließ
Editor: Susan Houlton