Malian Prime Minister Boubou Cisse on Friday launched a voluntary disarmament operation for some 8,500 combatants near Mopti in central Mali, to try to stem the “vicious cycle” of violence that threatens the country’s stability.
This Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programme designed for the center of the country is modeled on that progressively implemented in the north in accordance with the peace agreements negotiated in Algiers in 2015.
The launch comes as the goverment of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is shaken the worst attack suffered by the Malian army for years in early October.
Forty soldiers were killed on September 30 and October 1 when jihadists attacked the military camps in Boulkessy and Mondoro, according to a provisional government report.
The DDR “special centre” is for ethnic self-defense militias (dogon and peule), regularly accused of massacres of civilians, as well as former rebels from the north settled in the region and jihadists who “discreetly” defected, according to a DDR official.
Some 200 fighters discreetly surrendered their weapons on Friday after the official ceremony.
“There are 8,504 combatants already registered,” Zahabi Ould Sidy Mohamed, chairman of the national commission for the DDR operation, told AFP.
“The accumulation of weapons in the hands of non-state actors is fueling the endless cycle of violence and vengeance, which has led to crimes, as well as hindering efforts towards development and progress,” the Prime Minister said.
The “cessation of hostilities agreements” signed in early August by armed Fulani and Dogon groups, during a previous visit by the head of goverment, did not prevent the escalation of violence.
A Fulani militia leader, Oumar Aldiana declared that, “I have about 700 armed men who will come here in the Soufroulaye camp to disarm and participate in the DDR program, we are tired of this war.”