France rejects Tuareg independence move
France on Friday rejected the Tuarag rebel group proclamation of an independent state in northern Mali, according to foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero. The African Union also rejected the 'Azawad' state.
AFP - France rejected on Friday the declaration of an independent Tuareg homeland by rebel fighters in northern Mali, and vowed to support the territorial integrity of its former colony.
"We consider that the unilateral declaration of independence of 'Azawad' is null and void," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said, after the Tuareg separatist MNLA force declared an independent homeland.
"France and the international community is attached to and defends the unity and territorial integrity of Mali," he said. The African Union also rejected the independence declaration.
Valero said France was urging the MNLA to come to a negotiated settlement with the government in Mali that would be "respectful of the constitutional order in Mali and the unity of the country."
He also condemned what he said was the "violence and looting" being carried out by two Islamist groups that are reportedly allied to the MNLA, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Ansar Dine.
Asked whether this meant that France draws a distinction between the actions of the MNLA, which is fighting for Tuareg independence, and the Islamist rebels, Valero said, "Yes."