- Malian government and Tuareg rebels have released prisoners abducted and held hostage northeast during a year old conflict, a move aimed at paving a way for formal peace negotiations to end a rebellion, government said on Wednesday.
The rebels have been in conflict with government demanding autonomy for their people in Africa's third largest gold producer.
Release of soldiers being held hostage was a key condition posed by president Amadou Toumani Toure's government to Tuareg insurgent chief Ibrahima Bahanga and other rebel leaders for a definitive solution to the conflict.
"Mali government informs its citizens that 44 of our soldiers abducted and held hostage northeast of Kidal were freed on 9 September," government said, further stating that all of the combatants arrested and held by nation's military authorities have been handed over to Tuareg leaders.
In July government reached a ceasefire agreement with ethnic Tuareg rebels to end nearly a year of clashes in northern dessert.
The deal was a direct resultant of Algerian brokered four days peace talks, held since Friday in the country's capital, Algiers, which brought together Mali government and militia to end hostilities in the region.
A ceasefire pact pushed for both parties to commit themselves to steps such as freeing hostages and prisoners to ease tension on the ground in northern Mali.
Mali has been roiled by conflict between rebels and government, while at the same time, smugglers also operate in the region and Islamic insurgents active in Algeria known as al-Qaeda in Islamic North Africa have crossed the border.
Mali had signed a peace deal with Tuaregs in July 2006 after conflict reignited following years of peace in the wake of a 1990s rebellion. However, one faction of the Tuareg group refused to sign the deal, saying it did not do enough to help the Tuaregs.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.