Map locates distribution of Tuareg peoples. (AP)
Rebels of the nomadic Tuareg
people who have seized control of Mali's remote north have declared the
independence of the region, known as Azawad, citing 50 years of bad
governance and UN articles on the rights of native people.
The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad accused
Mali's governments of attempting to wipe out Tuaregs, including by
starving them during various droughts.
led by Malian Tuareg colonels who fought for Moammar Gadhafi in Libya
and returned home heavily armed led the rebellion that profited from a
March 21 coup in the faraway capital of Bamako.
The NMLA is fighting alongside a smaller but radical Islamist group
called the Ansar Dine, or Defenders of the Faith, who earlier announced
it was imposing Sharia law in the ancient city of Timbuktu.
"Considering the complete liberation of the territory of
Azawad, we irrevocably proclaim the independent state of Azawad,
counting from today, Friday, April 6, 2012," said a statement from the
NMLA's military leader and the movement's secretary general, Billal Ag
Acherif, a former Libyan army colonel.
statement also cited "the accumulation of more than 50 years of bad
governance, of corruption and of military-political-financial collusion,
endangering the existence of the people of Azawad and imperiling the
stability of the sub-region and international peace."
The rebels launched their insurgency in January, saying they
wanted to establish an independent Tuareg homeland in the north, known
as the Azawad. They only succeeded in taking small towns until March 21,
when disgruntled soldiers stormed the presidential palace in the
distant capital of Bamako, overthrowing the democratically elected
In the confusion that followed the
coup, the rebels launched a new offensive and succeeded in taking the
capitals of the three main northern provinces, including Kidal, which
fell last Friday, Gao on Saturday and Timbuktu on Sunday. (nvn)