Malian Rebel Groups form Alliance, Pro-Coup Protestors Injure Interim President
June 6, 2012
By: Rebecca Aaberg | Printer Friendly
The National Movement for the Liberation of the Azaward (MNLA) and the Ansar Dine rebel groups agreed on May 26 to pursue their common goal of separating from southern Mali, the Associated Press reported. Although they approved a movement “to merge and create a transitional council and an army of the ‘Islamic State of Azawad,” the groups have not issued a formal declaration. The fight for northern independence has escalated since the coup against the Malian government in Bamako in March.
Despite forming an unofficial alliance, the MNLA and Ansar Dine have not determined how they might manage governing the territory. While Ansar Dine favors a hardline approach utilizing Shariah, or Islamic law, the MNLA does not support the plan. MNLA spokesman Mossa Ag Attaher said that the MNLA “don’t accept Shariah law. That’s never what we wanted.” Oumar Ould Hamaha, a fighter for Ansar Dine, claimed that the two groups do agree on “80 percent” of the issues at hand.
The international community condemned the continued violence in the north and the rebel attempts to separate from the rest of the country. French President Francois Holland recommended that the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bring the problem to the United Nations (UN) Security Council to ask for assistance. Holland also pledged France’s help should the Malian government take this step, Reuters reported. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called the conflict a potential “West African Afghanistan,” and warned that intervention would only be successful if done the right way: “We can’t let this area become a new sanctuary for terrorism. There are real risks. We have to act, but the right plays to do that are ECOWAS, the African Union, and the UN Security Council.”
A coup in March overthrew the Malian government, citing the lack of resolution to the northern conflict. Although an interim president chosen by Army officers, Dioncounda Traore, is in power, coup supporters have continued to protest Traore’s rule, believing him incapable of dealing with the insurgency in the North. On May 21, Traore was attacked and beaten unconscious by protestors who had broken into his office. Leaders of the March coup have called for Traore to step down, but ECOWAS has insisted that Traore remain in office until Mali holds elections. ECOWAS also threatened to impose sanctions on the country in response to the beating.
A counter-coup by followers of ousted former President Amadou Toumani Toure clashed with former junta leaders on April 30 and May 1. The participants are now being investigated for “undermining of internal state security through illegal use of the armed forces, conspiracy, murder, assault and battery, theft and possession of weapons of war,” according to State Prosecutor Sombe Thera. Targeted soldiers included General Hamidou Sissoko, leader of Toure’s military staff, and the son of former President Alpha Oumar Konare.
For previous news on Mali, please see:
Mali’s Constitution Reinstated under International Pressure, Rebellion Continues in North
AFP - Mali probes officers over counter-coup bid
Associated Press (via Washington Post) – Malian Rebel Merger Starts to Waver; Dissent Over Application of Shariah Law
BBC – Mali’s President Traore ‘Goes to France for Medical Tests’
Reuters – African Union to Take Mali to UN Security Council