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3 Malian Tuareg, Arab rebel movements unite

05 November 2013, 11:33

Ouagadougou - Three Tuareg and Arab rebel movements in northern Mali announced their merger on Monday to form a united front in peace talks with the authorities in Bamako.

The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), the Arab Movement of Azawad (MAA) and the High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA) adopted a "political platform", a "negotiating committee" and a joint "decision-making body" after several days of talks in Burkina Faso.

The groups said the decision was "guided by a common political will to prioritise the best interests of the people" of the vast northern desert region they call Azawad, adding that a political solution was the only option for securing peace.

The merger will go ahead "within 45 days" after the membership of each of the groups had approved the move, they said, adding that no name had yet been chosen for the new movement.

An accord signed in Ouagadougou in June envisaged a cessation of hostilities between the Malian army and MNLA and HCUA fighters in the run-up to the presidential elections which saw Ibrahim Boubacar Keita become president in August.

The MAA is a recent creation by Mali's disaffected northern Arab communities who wanted to leverage more influence in discussions with the government in Bamako.



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