On June 11, the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement announcing Malian Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra’s two-day visit to Algeria, at the invitation of his counterpart Ahmed Ouyahia. According to the ministry, Diarra relayed a message from Malian President Dioncounda Traore to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
The ministry stated that this visit falls within the “framework of regular consultations between the two countries.” It said that the Malian PM will hold talks with Algerian officials about “the situation in Mali and the Sahel region, as well as ways to consolidate the bilateral cooperation between both countries.”
Given the important developments that have recently taken place in northern Mali, Diarra’s visit is of paramount importance. It comes on the heels of calls made by both Chairperson of the African Union Thomas Yayi Boni, president of Benin, and the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, stressing the need for military intervention in Mali in accordance with a resolution from the United Nations Security Council. The visit also came on the sidelines of the Abidjan meeting, where the dissident army of northern Mali was urged to leave power and not interfere with the country’s transitional phase.
The meeting between Ouyahia — the godfather of the 1991 peace agreement between the Malian government and Tuareg rebels — and Diarra is considered a threshold for an actual solution in northern Mali. This view is based on Algeria’s political and economic weight in the search for key solutions to Malian crisis, which flared after the March 22 coup d’etat that took place there.
Algeria supports dialogue between the rebels in northern Mali and the government. It respects the unity and sovereignty of Mali and the African Union’s fight against terrorism. Algerian officials believe that calls for dialogue will be effective in bringing all Malian parties together to the negotiation table. This will allow them to find a consensual political solution, put an end to the crisis and restore Mali’s constitutional legitimacy.
The Ministry of Defense refrained from any mention of Diarra’s visit until the last minute, suggesting that Algeria was keen not to disturb the meeting in light of the many attempts on the part of others to internationalize Mali’s crisis and refer it to the Security Council. Algeria believes that opportunities for dialogue have yet to be exhausted. Algerian officials expect the two-day meeting between Ouyahia and Diarra to open the way for national dialogue in Mali.
After wrapping up his meeting in Algeria, Diarra will head to Paris on June 14 to meet with the Malian president, who is receiving medical treatment in the French capital after being attacked by protesters in front of Mali’s presidential palace. Diarra will brief the president on his talks in Algeria. According to a statement issued by the Malian government, the Malian PM will then meet with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, whose government supports military intervention in Mali.