Mali’s foot-dragging traps peace mission in unending conflict

A Malian soldier carries mock weaponry for training during the visit of German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen to the EUTM military training mission in Koulikoro

From Reuters:

“Last week, the offices of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the desert city of Gao in northern Mali were flattened by a truck bomb. On Tuesday, just five suspected Islamist militants succeeded in freeing 93 inmates from a jail in the town of Niono.

“Peace” in Mali looks increasingly like war by another name. As both rebels and government go slow on implementing a deal signed last year, it is the U.N. peacekeeping mission, which has lost 100 lives and is costing nearly a billion dollars a year, that is paying the price.

“The war makes a living for a lot of people,” said Moussa Mara, a former prime minister who led an abortive effort to retake the lawless desert town of Kidal in 2014 but no longer has a government post.

“There are those in the peace process who don’t want it to conclude. They get their ‘per diems’, they get their travel paid. These armed groups are not in a hurry,” Mara told Reuters, recalling that one meeting on implementation that was supposed to take an afternoon had ended up dragging on for weeks.”

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