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Nearly 2000 people in Bamako, have rallied against the independence of Northern Mali, a day after Tuareg rebels declared independence in the area they call Azawad.

Protesters asked for international assistance and welcomed actions taken by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) who are to send around 3000 troops to help shore up Mali’s territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty.

Meanwhile Mali’s military leaders who took over in a coup on March 22nd, have agreed to stand down and allow a return to civilian rule.

Parliamentary speaker Diouncounda Traore has returned to the country after a short time in exile, and will serve as interim president and oversee the timetable for elections.

Calls by rebels to have their newly named region of Azawad declared independent have been rejected by international bodies.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Islamist group Ansar Dine has imposed Sharia law in some northern towns.

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