France - Mali - 
Article published the Friday 06 April 2012 - Latest update : Friday 06 April 2012

Malian Tuareg independence declaration meaningless, says France and AU

A Tuareg in front of the 13th-century mosque in Timbuktu, seized by rebels this week
Reuters/Luc Gnago


Tuareg separatists’ declaration of independence in the north of Mali is “meaningless” unless it is recognised by African countries, French Defence Minister Gérard Longuet declared Friday. The African Union later dubbed the declaration "null and of no value whatsoever"

“We solemnly proclaim the independence of Azawad as of today,” Mossa Ag Attaher, the spokesperson in France of the Movement for the National Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), told France 24 television earlier.

And a declaration of independence has been posted on the group's website.

Where is Azawad?
Click to enlarge

But Longuet insisted that “A unilateral declaration of independence that is not recognised by African states would be meaningless.”

On Tuesday, as the MNLA and Islamist groups took control of all the major towns in the north, French Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Juppé said France was opposed to the establishment of a separate Tuareg homeland.

Attaher condemned the kidnapping of Algerian diplomats by Islamists in the town of Gao, dubbing the captors “a terrorist commando” and pledged to restore order in Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal.

Algeria has confirmed that an “unidentified” group has taken its consul and six of his colleagues to “an unknown destination”.

France, the UN and the US have expressed concern that the Islamist group Ansar Dine, led by a Tuareg chief Iyad Ag Ghaly, and members of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim) seem to be playing a more active role in the rebellion than the MNLA.

The MNLA’s declaration of independence declares its support for the UN charter and its “firm commitment to creating the conditions for lasting peace”.

West African military leaders, meeting in Abidjan Thursday, have drawn up a “mandate” for a military force that could be sent to Mali.

Heads of state of countries belonging to the Ecowas grouping will have to ratify it make it official.

As the meeting opened, Côte d’Ivoire’s Defence Minister Paul Koffi Koffi said that Ecowas’s priority was not to fight the rebels in the north but to restore constitutional order in the whole country following last month’s coup d’état.

tags: Aqim - Azawad - Ecowas - France - Gao - Gérard Longuet - Independence - Islamist - Mali - Separatism - Timbuktu - Tuareg
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Comments (6)

Don't shoot the messenger

The claim that the word "Tuareg" did not appear in the article was cited as proof of its bias. The fact that this claim is untrue therefore undermines the case.
We led with the French reaction (and added the AU's) because at the time of publishing many other media had already informed the world of the declaration of independence. We led with the latest development thus providing you with new information which we assume was useful to know.
Wherever possible we lead with a French angle because France is our USP. That does not constitute an endorsement of France's policies.
The announcement of independence was made on our sister TV station (state-run)France 24. The previous day the spokesperson told RFI it was soon to be made, which was reported on the site in French and English.
The spokesperson himself commented on the kidnapping of Algerian diplomats and we quoted his remarks.
France and several other countries cite the presence of Aqim in the area as a major concern. We report that.
We'd like to carry more reports from north Mali but for some time it has been a no-go area for foreigners, including foreign journalists. We are therefore reliant on residents speaking to news agencies and other media outlets and depend on what they report.

Tuareg is not just a Volkswagen model

Booooo to RFI! More talk about Islamic threats and not even a mention of the word Touareg. Typical propaganda from a state-run French media. 1.5 million Malian Touaregs getting less cyberprint than 2-300 AQIM nutjobs and of course the main points go to French-backed puppets who can never contradict whichever capitalist is currently in the mighty Elysee.

I expect more from RFI, but I don't know why - you continue to perpetuate French neo-colonial domination in West Africa. Negative propers to you!

Mali crisis

It sounds like you expected to find Touaregs on RFI's editorial board. France only gives visas to Malians if they are janitors or garbagemen.

Of course France is going to condemn and intervene anytime Africa gets out of their control. But they have screwed up Mali so badly that it is beyond their capability to stop the current events.

Won't somebody think of the Malian children!

LOL, France doesn't even give Malians visas for those jobs anymore!

France 24 is state-run too? Is there any private media anymore? No wonder all I read in France is the Sarkozy party line on Mali, which is terrorism at home, terrorism abroad, terrorism in my eyebrows. The media is turning Mali into a foreign version of Toulouse!

Mali is more than just AQIM, even if journalists don't go there, and I can see why French journalists wouldn't be appreciated after their constant promotion of the terrorist cause - what great publicity you have given them! I don't see how if you only choose to talk about terrorism you aren't trying to control things in their favor, which is what the Sarkozy and all the French arms makers want! Doesn't RFI have any West Africans at all who can explain things? Oh visas. Even fewer if Sarkozy wins.

I agree another poster - this is Ivory Coast Part II. It won't work in Northern Mali, at least.

Tuareg is the first word in

Tuareg is the first word in this article.


That's really a reply which addresses the letter and not the spirit of the criticism...which seems pretty fair RFI. You only mention Taureg to completely smack down their claims with the weight of the political establishment.

Frankly, I don't know much about these Tauregs but from what I read everybody seems to be very intent on deciding their future without talking about them at all.

No to French forces in Mali! But it's coming. They'll send in advisors, and then it will be crunch time and we'll have 1000 UN blue helmets to enforce Operation Ivory Coast Part II. And look - you quoted Longuet, so the French military is clearly already loading their weapons.

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