Mali has dismissed as untrue reports it had officially asked an organisation – the High Islamic Council (HCI) – to negotiate with Islamist insurgents on its behalf.
It was reported this week that the Ministry of Religious Affairs had asked the HCI to begin peace talks with al Qaeda’s local affiliate in hopes of ending a decade-long conflict.
But the Mali government, in a statement, denied the reports in a statement, saying: “The government informs the national and international public that to date, no national or international organisation has been officially mandated to carry out such an activity,” the government said in a statement.
As security deteriorates and Islamist groups expand beyond their traditional strongholds, the Malian authorities have quietly endorsed the idea of talks with militants.
But Mali’s main military ally, the French, opposes the strategy. France’s President Emmanuel Macron announced in June that his troops would not conduct joint operations with any country that negotiates with Islamist militants.
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