N Mali: Tuareg-Islamist unity bid unravels

2012-05-29 13:51

kalahari.com

Bamako - Plans for Tuareg rebels and hardline Islamist group Ansar Dine to join forces and proclaim an Islamic state in northern Mali have collapsed due to fundamental differences, the two sides said on Tuesday.

"We have refused to approve the final statement because it is different from the protocol agreement which we have signed," said Ibrahim Assaley, the Tuareg rebel National Liberation Front of Azawad (FNLA).

Moussa Ag Asherif, close to Ansar Dine head Iyad Ag Ghaly, confirmed the impasse in talks which came just 48 hours after the two groups announced their plans for joint domination of the remote desert region.

Regional and Western leaders have long feared a breakaway state in Mali's restive north could become al-Qaeda's main safe haven.

A draft of the statement by Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith) spoke of applying "pure and hard" Islamic Sharia law and banning non-Muslim humanitarian groups from the area, Assaley told AFP by phone from Gao, where the unity talks took place.

"It is as if they want us to dissolve into Ansar Dine," complained the representative of the secular Tuareg rebels. "That is unacceptable."

Asherif said the original accord had been merely a basis for working discussions and that the deal was on a "take it or leave it" basis. Ag Ghaly would travel to Gao on Tuesday morning "to solve the problem", he added.

Embattled transitional government


Ansar Dine is backed by al-Qaeda's north African branch, known as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

The original declaration of a separate Islamic state in Mali's vast desert north, an area larger than France, had come at the weekend.

The short-lived accord was hammered out after weeks of sometimes fraught discussions between two groups that have long held separate objectives and ideologies.

In January, the Tuareg rebels launched an offensive against the Malian army, which was heightened with the arrival on the scene of Ansar Dine, which wants Islamic Sharia law imposed throughout the land-locked west African nation.

A coup by Captain Amadou Sanogo and a group of low-ranking officers ousted the government in Bamako on 22 March, saying it was handling the Tuareg rebellion incompetently.

But the coup only opened the way for the Tuaregs, Ansar Dine - led by the charismatic Ag Ghaly - and criminal groups to occupy the north.

Mali's embattled transitional government had swiftly rejected the embryonic rebel alliance's declaration.

"The government of Mali categorically rejects the idea of the creation of an Azawad state, even more so of an Islamic state," Hamadoun Toure, information minister in the transitional administration, told AFP on Sunday.

The West African bloc Ecowas on Monday also rejected the rebel declaration of independence and repeated an earlier threat to take "all necessary measures" to keep Mali intact.

Atrocities and hardships

The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States "denounces in the strongest possible terms this opportunistic act", said a statement signed by Ecowas head Desire Kadre Ouedraogo.

It said the move would "only worsen the situation for a population that has already been the victim of all sorts of atrocities and hardships in the occupied area of Mali, as well as expose the entire region to the most serious dangers regarding peace and security".

Mali's transitional leaders have stressed their wish to restore the country's territorial integrity but seem unable to guarantee their own safety, let alone mount a credible challenge against the north's new masters.

The uncertain security situation was highlighted by a recent assault on 70-year-old interim president Dioncounda Traore.

Some 50 people have been arrested in the investigation into the attack, the government announced Monday.

Traore's entourage said tests had revealed nothing alarming and that he was expected back in Mali in the coming week following a trip to Paris for medical attention.

- SAPA

Read more on:    tuaregs  |  ecowas  |  al-qaeda  |  dioncounda traore  |  mali  |  west africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

The rich will pay - Mpofu

The EFF in Gauteng will focus all its energy on improving the lives of the poor, the party's premier candidate Dali Mpofu says.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Watch what happened when we blindfolded Helen Zille and asked her to eat random things
13 days to elections - news you need to know
11 Julius Malema quotes you'll never forget
DA won't get 30% - Zille
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Tuesday Century City - 05:58 AM
    Road name: Ratanga Road Southbound
    ROADWORKS - lane closure between Ocean Spirit Avenue and Century Boulevard (until mid April)
  • Tuesday Mitchells Plain - 05:58 AM
    Road name: Spine Road
    ROAD CLOSED between Weltevreden Drive and Seafarer Drive due to roadworks (until mid April)
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Mother’s Day special offers!

Spoil mom with these awesome specials that will warm her heart. Shop now!

Twisp – the smoking alternative

Buy any 2 refills for R250 and save R149. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Mother’s Day specials on appliances

Browse our range of Mother’s Day appliances to spoil and pamper mom. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9790

Bold Design The BlackBerry Bold 9790 smartphone combines the iconic BlackBerry...

From R2979.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be more sensitive today and can be influenced easily by the energies around you. Try not to be swayed too much by the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.