As a means to finding a political solution to growing lawlessness along their common border, the governments of Algeria and Mali agreed to set aside a €1.75 million fund to bolster security.
The English edition of Echorouk online reported the two countries met in Algiers in an attempt to ward off cross-border attacks, cut down on illegal immigrants passing through the region and stamp out smuggling from either side of the border. This was the tenth time the two countries met since 1995.
“The two sides agreed to step up security notably between the southern Algerian towns of Tamanrasset, Adrar and Illizi and the northern Malian towns of Kidal, Gao and Tomboctou, on the other side of the border,” the paper said.
In a recent interview with the newspaper, Hadj Ibrahim Ghouma, a Tuareg leader in southern Algeria, pressed the governments to expand armed security forces of locals on the increasingly lawless border region.
In view of the instability in the region, it has become more than necessary to involve directly the local residents, that is, the Touaregs themselves in the protection of the country’s southern borders with the setting up of armed vigilante groups operating, of course, under the close supervision of the National Popular Army.
Such armed vigilante groups will be in charge of combing every inch of the southern areas of Illizi province without any respite to ward off any cross-border terrorist attack.
These vigilante groups should be made up of local Touaregs whose advantage is to know every nook and corner of the Algerian south.
I should remind you that such armed self-defence groups called “Maharrissat” did exist in the 60’s and 70’s and did a rather good job by clearing the southern areas of all banditry before being dissolved abruptly by the Authorities in the 80’s.
Their reinstatement at this juncture will be, I guess, a good thing in view of the unpredictable situation now prevailing in the south.