Mali’s Tuareg Rebels Declare Independence After Military Coup

Victor Johnson - Author

Aug. 25 2013, Updated 1:35 a.m. ET

In the chaos which has ensued since a military coup left Mali’s Tuareg rebels in control of the northern part of the country, the rebels declared their independence. A statement posted on the rebel’s website read:

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“We, the people of Azawad, proclaim the irrevocable independence of the state of the Azawad starting from this day, Friday, April 6, 2012.”

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While heads of military from nation’s which border Mali were in Ivory Coast holding a meeting in which they were discussing flexing their military might in order to restore Mali to constitutional rule, the Tuareg rebels seemed intent on continuing their declaration of independence which began earlier in the week on Monday.

The Tuaregs are traditionally nomadic people who have been locked in a bitter conflict for independence in Mali since at least 1958. In a letter conjured by Tuareg elders that was sent to the French president, the Tuareg people formerly requested that France, their colonial rulers, section off a homeland in the north of the country where the Tuareg people reside. Contrary to their request, the country was made whole and the north and south were connected.

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Southern Mali is home to dark-skinned ethnic groups who have controlled Mali’s finances, while the north is home to the lighter-skinned Tuareg people.

The National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (NMLA) issued the declaration of independence which cited 50 years of mismanagement of the nation by the administration based on the south where the nation’s capital is located. The NMLA army is led by a Tuareg colonel who fought in Moammar Gadhafi’s military before the late Libyan leader was killed.

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