Mali’s rebel coalition said on Friday it was not ready to give preliminary approval to a United Nations-backed peace proposal a day after the government announced that it would.
The statement on behalf of the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) is another setback for mediators and the Malian government, which have been urging Tuareg-led separatists to sign for weeks.
It received initial approval from the government and another coalition of pro-government armed groups in early March.
“… The CMA states that it can not initial the so-called agreement for peace and reconciliation in Mali in its current state and on the date indicated,” a CMA statement said, reminding mediators of a list of amendments to the document they submitted last month.
A ceremony to celebrate the initialling of the proposal had been planned for April 15 in Algiers, where mediators have worked for months to thrash out a deal.
The negotiations aim to prevent future revolts by Tuareg-led insurgents who have risen up four times since Mali’s independence in 1960.
In the most recent rebellion in 2012, they allied with Islamic militants and briefly seized the desert north until a French-led military operation scattered them. Diplomats also hope that a deal will free up Malian and international forces to tackle the militants who remain a threat.