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Mali Rebukes Algeria as Peace Accord With Rebels Unravels

(Bloomberg) -- Mali’s military leadership terminated a 2015 peace accord with separatist Tuareg rebels and accused mediator Algeria of interference, deepening diplomatic tensions over protracted efforts to end an armed rebellion.

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“We note with deep concern the increasing number of unfriendly acts, instances of hostility and interference in Mali’s internal affairs by the authorities of Algeria,” government spokesperson Abdoulaye Maiga said in a speech broadcast on state television. Algeria’s actions undermine Mali’s national security and sovereignty, rendering the pact inapplicable, he said.

The fallout between the neighboring countries risk further destabilizing West Africa’s Sahel region, which is contending with a mushrooming Islamist insurgency and a series of coups in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.

Relations between Mali and Algeria have deteriorated over recent months as fighting between the Wagner-backed Malian army and the northern separatists intensified. Malian troops last year reconquered the northern city of Kidal, controlled by the rebels for almost a decade, and fighting has continued near the Mali-Algeria border.

Algeria’s government said it noted the Malian government’s termination of the peace accord “with deep regret and concern,” according to a statement from the foreign ministry. The decision is “dangerous for Mali itself and for the entire region,” it said.

Mali recalled its ambassador to Algiers in late December in protest at Algerian officials meeting with rebel leaders. This week, Mali’s foreign minister told state broadcaster ORTM that a delegation from an unnamed nation had made amendments to the peace accord, threatening his nation’s sovereignty. Algeria denied the allegation.

In his statement on Thursday, Maiga referred to “the hidden hand of the Algerian authorities” who “consider Mali as their backyard or state doormat” by imposing changes to the peace deal.

Algeria has led mediation between Mali and the rebels under the so-called Algiers process. Its efforts were supported by the UN Mission in Mali, which ended its operations last year at the junta’s request.

--With assistance from Souhail Karam.

(Updates with comment by Algerian government in fifth paragraph)

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