By Patrick Markey for Reuters, Published on Global Good News

Saturday July 19 2014

Mali’s government and rebels held peace talks in Algiers on Wednesday in an effort to end decades of uprisings by northern tribes, though the government said at the start it would refuse to discuss any demands for full autonomy.

Three main rebel groups—the Tuareg MNLA and High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA), as well as the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA)—have sought to unify their positions, but there are divisions within the different Tuareg factions and between Tuareg and Arab separatist groups.

‘We are here to construct a roadmap and launch a profound dialogue,’ rebel negotiator Mahamadou Djeri Maiga told reporters. ‘We have accepted the integrity of Mali. We are also for a secure state. We must build a new Mali.’

Algeria’s government said it had helped broker a prisoner swap to build confidence at the start of the talks—45 civilians and troops from the government in exchange for 42 members and sympathisers of rebel movements.

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