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Will Mali’s Peace Deal Hold?

Three “peace agreements” have been signed by representatives from herder and farmer communities that have become trapped in violence sparked by armed group attacks in central Mali. The accords bring together the Fulani – also called Peul – who mainly comprise semi-nomadic herders, and the Dogon, who are chiefly sedentary farmers. The two groups have historic tensions over access to land and water, but the friction turned bloody after armed fighters pushed into their region more than five years ago. Under the accords, the signatories pledged to encourage members of their communities “to work for peace by forgiving past acts and spread messages of cohesion and calm”. They also agreed to “guarantee physical integrity, the free circulation of people, goods and cattle … to respect the habits and customs” of all, and enable people of all communities to have access to villages and markets, the statement said. The agreement is also meant to help the displaced return home. Last week, the UN refugee agency said more than two million people were forced to flee their homes within their own countries’ borders owing to the violence engulfing Africa’s Sahel region. On top of the internally displaced, more than 850,000 people have fled Mali and taken shelter in other countries, it said. Similar agreements were signed just over two years ago but failed to stem the violence.