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Gao attack threatening Mali's peace agreement

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The murderous attack on the Joint Operational Mechanism base in Gao on 18 January threatens to undermine efforts to achieve peace in Mali. The attack, which killed nearly 80 people and injured more than 100, targeted a key feature of the Algiers peace agreement: joint patrols. These patrols, which bring together soldiers from the Malian military, members of the Co-ordination of Azawad Movements as well as from several militia groups, are aimed at securing areas that are currently beyond the control of authorities, particularly in the north. The patrols have been delayed several times since the agreement was signed in June 2015, and have long been the cause of a stalemate between stakeholders. The attack was claimed by the AQIM affiliated Al-Mourabitoune group, a group that the patrols were supposed to fight. The attack has also rekindled the atmosphere of distrust between the peace agreement stakeholders as they each accuse the others of complicity with the assailants. This renewed tension, combined with the impact of the attack on soldiers, could undermine the usefulness of these patrols before they even start. This weakening of the peace process should result in a revival of talks and negotiations, especially during the National Unity Conference that President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced for March 2017. Find out + (French)