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Algiers Agreements: implementation and results

Historical review of the Algiers Agreements

The Algiers Agreements enshrine the negotiations conducted in Algiers between the Republic of Mali and the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA). They were signed without the immediate support of all stakeholders. In the first stage, in Bamako, on May 15, 2015, the first agreements were signed by the Malian government and the loyalist groups as well as several states and organizations on behalf of the international mediation: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, the African Union, the UN, ECOWAS, the OIC, the European Union and France, but without the presence of the CMA representatives. In a second step, the CMA, under pressure from the international community, signed on June 20, 2015 by its representative, Sidi Brahim Ould Sidati, a leader of the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA).

Algiers Agreements beetween malians autorities and azawadians.
Algiers Agreements between malians autorities and azawadians.

They are first and foremost peace agreements allowing the Malian government to regain sovereignty over its entire territory. However, the words of the UN independent expert, Suliman Baldo, after a 10-day visit to Mali reflect, by their ambiguity, a report of failure. He describes a situation where “terrorist attacks in the south and center of the country, political-military groups, international drug trafficking and cross-border crime” still prevail…

Yet politicians claim that their implementation remains a major concern. The facts contradict them, since the results obtained today are far from the expectations expressed by the actors who signed the peace document at the time.

The crisis was dealt with in two stages: a political component – delegated to Algeria – to respond to the demands of the Tuareg nomads who had revolted against Bamako, and an armed component against the jihadists, essentially provided by France (Barkhane) reinforced by a multinational force of more than 10,000 blue helmets (the Minusma) as a “peacekeeping” force.

This two-pronged approach has run up against harsh realities as the crisis has spread. On the one hand, the jihadists dominate vast territories and are increasing their attacks every day. on the other hand, the political component formalized in the Algiers agreements has been paralyzed, as no reform has been implemented, while the ex-separatists, who have not been disarmed, have grown stronger and now militarily dominate northern Mali.

Seven years after their signature, it is interesting to take stock of the situation in Mali. To study, first of all, the contradictions and to observe the results.

Sincerity and good faith are not the qualities of the protagonists

Today, the Algiers Peace Accords remain difficult to implement on the ground. Over time, they have gradually lost their meaning to the point of raising questions about their successful conclusion. However, it still appears today that their full and complete implementation is a necessary step for the return of peace to Mali.

This peace is so close, but so far away, so many obstacles lie in the way. This is a reflection of a situation where everyone is seeking to satisfy their own interests rather than those of the nation. To break this deadlock, the Malian government and the signatory armed groups held talks on March 16 and 17 in Gao. It was also an opportunity to integrate the government side into the Permanent Strategic Framework (PFS) created by the armed groups in the North. The astute observer will note that the government’s membership was necessary to control the initiatives undertaken by the PSC, on the one hand, and to contribute to the rapprochement of the protagonists in order to relaunch the Algiers Agreements, on the other.

Nevertheless, this commitment is still the subject of tension between the transitional authorities, who claim to want to apply it “intelligently,” and the armed groups, who denounce the bad faith of the state in its implementation. It must be recognized that in this conflict, sincerity and good faith seem to be the things least shared by the various stakeholders. This is why the situation remains explosive, given the attitude of certain armed groups who are asking the authorities to demonstrate their commitment. 

Results of the Algiers agreements

1. Ambiguity of the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA): between communal warfare and treason

In 2017, the MSA and GATIA were fighting the ISGS jihadists. At this time, they are cooperating with the French and Malian armies to fight the jihadists. In practice, this alliance takes on a communal character if one considers that the MSA and the GATIA, mainly composed of Tuaregs, are fighting the ISGS, which is predominantly Peul. This was confirmed in May of that year, when Touaregs from the GATIA fought Fulani from Ganda Izo, even though the two groups were members of the Platform and therefore theoretically allies

Despite all these accusations against it, the movement defends its loyalty to the government, citing the assassination of an HCUA official, Alassane Ag Intouwa, in Ber by AQIM.

2. Inter-community conflicts

In 2017, the MSA and GATIA were fighting the ISGS jihadists. At this time, they are cooperating with the French and Malian armies to fight the jihadists. In practice, this alliance takes on a communal character if one considers that the MSA and the GATIA, mainly composed of Tuaregs, are fighting the ISGS, which is mostly Peul. This was confirmed in May of that year, when Touaregs from the GATIA fought Fulani from Ganda Izo, even though the two groups were members of the Platform and therefore theoretically allies

3. Exactions

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, GATIA men executed six people in Tin-Hama on May 21, 2015, during fighting against the MNLA

Some GATIA members are accused of links to drug trafficking, including Ahmoudou Ag Asriw, who is accused of escorting numerous drug convoys in 2017 and 2018. As of June 2018, GATIA and other groups in the Platform are violating the rights of children in war recruiting child soldiers. They are blacklisted by the UN. In a report dated August 8, 2018, independent U.N. experts also accuse GATIA member Baye Coulibaly of being one of the most important traffickers of migrants in the Gao region.

The Carter Center, an independent observer of the Algiers Agreements, reports that the expected results have not been achieved. Disarmament has not really begun; on the contrary, rearmament has occurred while no political reform has been put in place. For the International Crisis Group: “By reducing the crisis to a problem between the center and the periphery, the text misses the essential issues.

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