Mali’s interim president held talks with Tuareg rebel leaders

Mali’s interim President Dioncounda Traore has met for the first time with members of two northern Tuareg separatist groups, provoking anger among many in the country’s south as ethnic tensions rise ahead of a presidential poll on Sunday.

The election is meant to unify the West African nation after a March 2012 coup allowed Tuareg rebels and their al Qaeda-linked Islamist allies to seize the West African nation’s desert north.

The Tuareg rebels, who were sidelined by the better-armed Islamists early on in the 10-month occupation, last month agreed to take their fighters off the streets in exchange for a promise of negotiations with the new government after the elections.

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