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Published: Friday September 27, 2013 MYT 5:50:02 AM
Updated: Friday September 27, 2013 MYT 5:50:57 AM

Mali Tuareg separatists suspend participation in peace process

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - Tuareg separatists pulled out of a peace agreement with the Mali government on Thursday, accusing Bamako of not respecting its commitments to a truce reached in June.

The ceasefire in the West African nation allowed Mali's government and military to return to the separatists' northern stronghold of Kidal and enabled national elections to take place in July and August.

"Following multiple difficulties implementing the Ouagadougou agreement, mainly caused by non-observance by the Malian government of its commitments, (we have) decided to suspend participation in the structures of implementation of the agreement," three organizations representing the Tuaregs said.

They did not specify the difficulties.

Following a meeting in neighbouring Burkina Faso's capital of Ouagadougou, the separatist groups - the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA) and the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA) - said they wanted an emergency meeting of all parties to assess the implementation of the agreement.

Mali's government was not immediately available to comment.

The decision risks stoking tensions between the separatists and Mali's government. Last week, protesters in Kidal pelted officials from Mali's newly elected government during a weekend visit to the town.

The Tuareg uprising in 2012 led to a military coup in the capital and the occupation of the northern half of the country by better-armed Islamist militants.

A French-led ground and air offensive drove out the Islamists, allowing the Tuareg separatists to recapture their traditional northern stronghold.

The desert region of Kidal in Mali's desolate northeast has produced four rebellions since independence from France in 1960. Its light-skinned Tuareg people say successive black African governments in the capital Bamako have excluded them from power.

(Reporting by David Lewis and Bate Felix; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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