Unidentified assailants have killed the leader of a former Tuareg-led rebel alliance in Mali in an attack outside his home.
Sidi Brahim Ould Sidati, president of the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), was shot in the capital, Bamako, on Tuesday morning, alliance spokesman Almou Ag Mohamed said. He was taken to a hospital but died hours later from his wounds, added Mohamed.
Mali’s government confirmed that Ould Sidati died of gunshot wounds and said it would open an investigation into the attack. No one has claimed responsibility for the shooting.
Mali is going through a transition following a military coup last year that overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. The killing could imperil the implementation of a 2015 peace accord which Ould Sidati signed on behalf of the CMA, an umbrella organisation of Tuareg and Arab separatist groups.
The CMA had fought Malian government forces in the north until they signed a peace accord in 2015. Implementation of the deal has been repeatedly delayed, but it remains in effect.
“This assassination will forcibly have an impact on the peace process, given (Ould Sidati’s) role and his engagement,” said Redouwane Ag Mohamed Ali, another CMA spokesman.
In 2012, a Tuareg rebellion that sought to create a new state called Azawad and a coup in Bamako created a power vacuum in northern Mali, which allowed al-Qaeda-linked fighters to seize control before French troops intervened to push them out in 2013.
Mali has remained unstable since, as fighters have regrouped and continue to carry out attacks despite the presence of more than 5,000 French troops and around 13,000 United Nations peacekeepers.
Mali’s transition Prime Minister Moctar Ouane said on social media that Ould Sidati’s murder was committed by “two unidentified armed individuals”.
He said he was “stunned” over what he called “an abominable act” on the same day he was to meet with Ould Sidati to discuss reforms.
Ould Sidati “was an important actor in the peace process”, Ouane said, pledging to launch an investigation into the killing. The United Nations’ representative in Mali, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, expressed “outrage” over the killing.
Ould Sidati “was one of those Malians who believed and really worked for peace and unity in Mali,” he said on social media. The late rebel leader was “constantly seeking consensus to make the Malian peace process irreversible,” he said.