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Central Mali: The Niono Accord, from hope for peace, to aresurgence of conflict

Boubacar Ba and Beatriz de León Cobo

21 September 2021

On 6 October 2020, an armed group stormed the village of Kourmari (Niono circle, Ségou region, central Mali) during the weekly fair. They took around twenty civilians hostage and blocked all access to the village, which they besieged for several months. The identity of the attackers varies according to the sources: at first, the inhabitants thought they were bandits. Subsequently, the attackers who carried out this action claimed to be affiliated with the jihadist group Katiba Macina, linked to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which is mainly active in central Mali. After months of continuous attacks, traditional chiefs, community leaders, the mayors of Niono and the Don hunters, a community militia and self-defence group, began negotiating with the jihadists. This negotiation, which lasted four months, was conducted under the mediation of the High Islamic Council of Mali, an umbrella institution representing all Muslims and Muslim associations in Mali. The parties agreed to a temporary ceasefire for one month, which later became definitive for the entire Niono circle. This article will analyse the situation of the conflict between Katiba Macina's jihadists and the Donsos in the Niono area (Ségou, central Mali), as well as the process that led to the peace agreement between the parties. The dynamics of the conflict in Ségou and the peace agreement provide an insight into the complex workings of violence in central Mali.

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Centro de Mali- el acuerdo de Niono, de una esperanza de paz duradera a un resurgimiento
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Centre du Mali - l’accord de Niono, d’un espoir de paix durable à la résurgence du conflit
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Central Mali- The Niono Accord, from hope for peace, to a resurgence of conflict
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Boubacar Ba. Director of the Centre d'Analyse sur la Gouvernance et la Sécurité au Sahel (CAGS)-ONG Eveil. Researcher specialising in political ecology, conflict geopolitics, security governance and development issues in Mali and the Sahel. Member of the expert group of the Sahel Europe Dialogue Forum.

Beatriz de León Cobo. Researcher and consultant specialising in security and violent radicalisation processes in the Sahel. Coordinator of the Sahel Europe Dialogue Forum expert group and analyst at the Francisco de Vitoria University International Security Centre.

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