Morten Bøås, Liv Elin Torheim, 15 March 2013
The Islamist rebels are no longer in control of northern Mali, but the crisis is far from over. The north is currently so factionalised that no united position exists as a viable platform for negotiations with Bamako. The political situation in Bamako is similar: political groups have taken a range of positions regarding the March 21st 2012 coup, the transitional government, negotiations with the north and the international intervention. These issues will likely be further politicised prior to the elections planned for July 31st 2013, which will make it even harder to agree on a national platform for peace, reconciliation and dialogue. The internal divisions of the Malian army are also affecting the situation negatively. The conflict, coming on top of the 2011-12 drought, has resulted in a complex humanitarian emergency, with 430,000 externally or internally displaced refugees. Due to the volatile situation in Mali, most refugees will not return in the immediate future, suggesting that the country and the region are facing a protracted refugee crisis. In light of this it is important that the international community should continue to stay engaged in supplying relief and development assistance, and in efforts to achieve peace and reconciliation.