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Mali: rebel plan for independent Islamic state collapses

Two rebel groups in northern Mali say their plan to join forces and establish an Islamic state has collapsed.

Clone of mali rebels timbuktu 2012 04 01Enlarge
Mali's Tuareg rebels have declared northern Mali to be the independent state of Azawad. The contested area includes the fabled center of Timbuktu. Here a resident of Timbuktu walks past the restored City of 333 Saints Djingareyber Mosque. (Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images)

Two rebel groups in northern Mali say their plan to join forces and establish an Islamic state has collapsed, Agence France Presse reported.

The secular Tuareg, known as the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), and the hardline Islamist group, Ansar Dine, have put the failure down to what they call “fundamental differences.”

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Ansar Dine, which has ties to al-Qaeda, wants to impose strict Islamic Sharia law, and to ban non-Muslim humanitarian groups from areas they control, AFP reported, adding that this was not acceptable to the Tuareg.

Mali's transitional government and the West African bloc, ECOWAS, had rejected the declaration of an Islamic state in Mali's northern desert, made at the weekend, the town of Gao, the BBC reported.

ECOWAS said it would use force, if necessary, to ensure the territorial integrity of Mali.

In the capital, Bamako, Mali's transitional government also rejected the idea of an independent Islamic state, which the rebel groups said would be called Azawad.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/120529/mali-rebel-groups-islamic-state-azawad