THE RENEWAL OF ARMED STRUGGLE IN AZAWAD
Tuesday, 17th January 2012 – 13h00 GMT
For the past several years, and even more so these last few months, the Touareg movement has redoubled its efforts to create a constructive dialogue with the Malian authorities, with the participation of the international community, in order to bring peace, stability, development and security to the Touareg regions of Mali. We have made efforts to inform Mali’s western partners and certain countries in the Sahelian region of the situation that exists in our area of the north of Mali. But we have always come up against the repeated refusal of the Malian authorities to discuss our demands and find a positive way out that might satisfy the various parties in this conflict.
The authorities in Bamako have stubbornly refused to reopen dialogue during all these years.
In order to clearly demonstrate their refusal to talk, the authorities in Bamako have sent several hundred, and possibly more than a thousand, soldiers in the last few days to the North of Mali, with the latest equipment which has been acquired in the last few months by the Malian army, as well as tanks and warplanes. This massive mobilisation of troops, which has been worrying the civilian population, has been understood by the Touareg movement as an invitation to war from the Malian authorities.
In short, Bamako has once again created all the conditions necessary for a renewal of hostilities. In order to protect itself and to progressively re-occupy the territory of Azawad, and also to respond to Bamako’s provocation, men from the headquarters of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) have decided to put their lives on the line. It is in this context that military action has taken place this morning in Azawad territory, in the town of Menaka. After heavy fighting with large-scale weaponry, the town of Menaka has been under the control of the military commander of the Movement for several hours. No civilian casualties have been recorded during this well-considered operation, which has been a great success for the Movement. The important military operations of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad will continue so long as Bamako does not recognise this territory as a separate entity. These military actions are also an appeal to the international community: as long as it does not engage effectively to seek a long lasting resolution of this conflict, which has gone on for too long, the same causes will produce the same effects.
These military operations have only one aim: to win Peace and Justice for the community of Azawad and stability for our region.
17th January 2012.
HAMA AG SID’AHMED
Spokesperson and coordinator of external relations for the MNLA