Rebels from North Mali say they will sign peace deal next month

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Rebels from northern Mali have told mediators they will initial a long-delayed United Nations-brokered peace proposal on the future of Mali’s north next month, a spokesman for the lead separatist group said late on Sunday.

The government, based in the capital Bamako in the country’s south, and another coalition of pro-government armed groups accepted the proposal in early March, but the Tuareg coalition from the north refused after consultations with its supporters.

Worried that the absence of a peace deal will lead to an intensification of violence in the vast lawless desert region, the Malian government and diplomats have cranked up pressure on mostly Tuareg separatists, at times threatening sanctions.

The head of the UN Mission in Mali (Minusma) said he “hopes” the dominant Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali sign the Algiers peace agreement before the deadline of 15 May, according to a statement published by the Minusma on Thursday.

The UN Security Council called on the dominant Tuareg rebellion to ink the initial peace agreement negotiated in Algeria to avoid sanctions.

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