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Mali president to consider dialogue with jihadists

EPA-EFE/HAYOUNG JEON
Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita speaks during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (unseen) at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, 08 February 2019.

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Mal’s president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has for the first time acknowledged contacts with armed groups.
“The number of deaths in the Sahel is becoming exponential and it’s time that certain paths be explored”, he said in an interview, and added:
“We are ready to build bridges for dialogue with everyone. At some point, we have to sit around a table and talk”.
The government in Bamako has long rejected dialogue with leaders of armed fighters. It also did not follow the recommendations in a 2017 national conference with his party and opposition parties that urged holding direct talks with jihadists to solve the crisis.
Keita said he had tasked former President Dioncounda Traore with seeing if there were people who “could be sensitive to a discourse of reason”. However, he added he was not “naive” about the likelihood of success:
“Those who order others to enter a mosque and blow themselves up in the middle of the faithful don’t have much of my esteem,” he said.

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