The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, the MNLA has declared independence for a northern region of Mali. Their claims have been rejected out of hand. This week the rebel group seized key towns when the Mali government was ousted by a coup.
Former colonial power France and the EU have refused to recognise Asawad’s independence.The UK has closed its embassy and withdrawn staff.
“We consider the unilateral decision of independence of Azawad by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, is null and void,” said
Bernard Valero, French Foreign Ministry spokesman.
In Mali’s capital, Bamako the move to declare independence sparked protests. Several hundred born in the north took to the streets singing Mali’s national anthem and holding banners in protest at the rebels announcement of independence.
“As with the majority of the people here, I defend the cause of the north. The declaration of independence is not welcome,” said one protester another adding, “I am ready to go today to dislodge the rebels. To free our relations who are screaming there every minute on the phone to me. They need my help, it is my mission.”
The African Union echoed the voices of these protesters rejecting independence as did the Prime Minister of Algeria. Washington too has refused to recognise Azawad amid fears it could encourage other separatist movements.