Mali Secessionist Groups Fail to Agree on New Country

Merger Deal for Azawad Stalls Over Islamist-Secular Split

The transition from the expulsion of the Malian military from the northern territory of the country to the formation of the actual nation of Azawad is hitting a brick wall today, as the two primary rebel factions continue to be deeply divided on how the new nation will look.

The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (NMLA), a Tuareg secessionist movement that fought most of the major battles with Mali’s military, bolstered by arms smuggled out of Libya, has an eye toward a secular nation.

But as the NMLA forces drove south, out of the impoverished Tuareg-dominated desert, the secessionist war began to include Ansar Dine, a faction determined to see Azawad as a Taliban-style Sharia state. The group has links to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

NMLA spokesmen have termed the call for a Sharia-dominated state a non-starter, insisting they want Azawad to ratify the UN conventions on human rights. Increasingly distant, the two sides both have forces in every major Azawad city, and it could quickly devolve into a civil war.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of