BAMAKO (Reuters) - Tuareg rebels of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) Friday proclaimed the independence of the territory they occupy in northern Mali.
In a statement signed by the secretary general of the MNLA, Billal Acherif Ag, and dated from Gao, the motion states that this decision takes effect immediately.
"The executive committee of the MNLA urges the international community as a whole to recognize immediately, in a spirit of justice and peace, independence of the State of Azawad," writes Acherif.
The statement, published on the website of the organization, lists of grievances for five
decades by the Tuareg against the ruling authorities in Bamako.
The movement also announced recognize borders with neighboring states and promises to create a democratic state based on the principles of the UN Charter.
France, former colonial power, said it was "null and void" the proclamation of independence.
"France, with the international community, and is committed to defending the unity and territorial entirety of Mali," added the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bernard Valero.
Identical terms were used by the African Union condemned "firmly this page" and urged the international community to "strongly support this policy position of Africa".
Algeria, speaking through his prime minister, Ahmed Ouyahia
, said she was "very, very worried" and said she "will not accept the territorial integrity of Mali is being questioned."
The separatists and the Islamist group Ansar Dine seized last week in three cities, Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu, located in the northern part of Mali.
They took advantage of the disorganization of the Malian army after the military coup perpetrated on March 22 against in Bamako President Amadou Toumani Toure.
The MNLA was announced Thursday to stop its military operations and proclaimed "State of Azawad" in this sub-Saharan area as large as France.
Salafists Anser Dine, who maintain relations with representatives of Al Qaeda in the region, wish to impose sharia law in Mali (Islamic law) and seem less interested in the idea of secession.
Concerned about the current instability, the States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed sanctions against the junta to force Captain Amadou Sanogo, head of the coup leaders, to withdraw .
Thursday, a group of mediators found to have good hope Sanogo soon announce measures to an abandonment of sanctions.
"I can guarantee that the master understands the situation and takes action. It will soon make a statement to that effect," said Djibril Bassole, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso, after talks with the junta leader.
Meeting in Abidjan on Thursday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the 15 member countries of ECOWAS have studied the mandate of a force of 3,000 soldiers could be deployed in Mali with the dual mission of restoring constitutional order and stop the advance of the rebels.
The Ivorian General Soumaila Bakayoko said that the meeting had expressed "the clear" of ECOWAS to find a solution to the crisis in Mali.