The Namibian (Windhoek)

12 April 2012

Namibia: Country Denounces Mali Rebels' 'Declaration of Independence'

THE Namibian government has expressed "revulsion" at the declaration of the 'independence of Azawad', the northern region in Mali, by the National Movement for the liberation of Azawad (MNLA) rebel group.

Declaring the region independent from Mali on Friday, April 6, the rebel group hoisted its own flag - strikingly similar to the new flag flying in Libya of the National Transitional Council (NTC) with its red, green, and black, with an added yellow front tip - in the northern city of Goa.

Denouncing the 'independence' of Azawad, the Namibian Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirmed the principle of the African Union (AU) on the inviolability of borders inherited at independence from colonialism.

It said the principle of indivisibility of these borders has served Africa well since its adoption by the Organisation for African Union (OAU) in 1964.

The Namibian government rejected any attempt to "dismember" any African country and "unreservedly" condemned all manner of secessionist aspirations.

It called on all Malians, irrespective of their historical backgrounds or political differences, to uphold the national unity and territorial integrity of their country.

The ministry said the "profoundly retrogressive" developments in Mali "are a direct consequence of the unstable security and political situation in Libya, created by the precipitous military overthrow" of Muammar Gaddafi's regime.

"[Those] countries that rushed to use military force in Libya had underestimated the severe repercussions of their actions in the Sahel region," the Namibian Foreign Affairs Ministry said.

"They should thus bear some responsibility for the instability in Mali and the general insecurity in the region."

The Namibian government said it supports the Ecowas initiative to help the Malian parties find a political solution that preserves the unity and territorial integrity of Mali.

It said the resignation of Mali's President Amadou Toumani Toure should facilitate the Ecowas mediation efforts.

"Those who subverted the constitution [of Mali] by overthrowing the democratically elected government should hand over power unconditionally in full compliance with the provisions of the Malian constitution," said the Namibian government.

Upon declaring the independence of Azawad, the MNLA pledged to restore security in the region and start building state institutions that will lead to a "democratic constitution for an independent Azawad".

The MNLA called on the international community to recognise the Azawad's independence without delay, and said it would continue to manage the affairs of Azawad until the appointment of a national authority.

The MNLA was formed in October 2011 when local Tuareg rebels were joined by their comrades who were in Libya after the fall of Gaddafi.

In January, the MNLA said it constitutes old rebels, fighters returning from Libya that fought with NTC forces in that country, volunteers from various ethnicities of northern Mali, as well as soldiers and officers that deserted the Malian army.

The Malian army staged a military coup in the middle of March since the Tuaregs have gained territorial gains in some northern parts, accusing Toure of not acting firmly enough to keep the rebels in check.

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