News / Africa

Mali Rebels Say They Will Create Moderate Islamic State

Rebels from the militant Islamist sect Ansar Dine in Mali
Rebels from the militant Islamist sect Ansar Dine in Mali
Anne Look
DAKAR - Two groups of rebels in control of northern Mali say they have united and will turn the territory into an Islamist state. The leaders of one rebel group say the state will be governed by a more moderate form of sharia law than is currently being imposed by the other group, made up of Islamist fighters.  

A political spokesman for the Malian rebel group, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, or MNLA, says militants are still working on the terms of an official statement following an accord signed Saturday between the MNLA and al-Qaida-linked Islamist militant group, Ansar Dine.

In the chaotic days following a March 22nd coup in Bamako, the two groups seized control of northern Mali but they say they have very different goals.

Ansar Dine wanted to impose its brand of Islamic law in Mali. The MNLA wanted to create the independent secular state of Azawad. MNLA spokesman Moussa ag Assarid says the alliance marks a compromise.

He says they agreed to an Islamic state but one developed by their own imams and suited to local religious practices, not those from the outside. He says the Koran will the source of the laws, as in Middle Eastern countries, however he says it will be a tolerant and moderate Islam. He says the state will be democratic and the people of Azawad will have a say.   

Assarid said the MNLA is looking to Mauritania as a model.

There has been resistance from residents of the north to both the idea of independence and Ansar Dine's efforts to introduce strict Islamic law in occupied towns.

International human rights groups say Ansar Dine's methods have included extrajudicial killings and amputations of limbs.

There have been reports of dissension between the two groups since the accord was announced. However, MNLA's Assarid said the alliance holds.

He says in this day and age, it would be impossible to impose religious practices by force. He says the militants of Ansar Dine are not fanatics. He says they are reasonable, and discussions are underway between the two groups about the details, but the big picture goals remain the same.

Assarid says the two groups agree that they will merge their fighters into a national army.  He says the two groups will cease to exist and the territory will be run a transitional council as an Islamic state. He says no armed groups outside of the national army will be tolerated.

The West African regional bloc ECOWAS strongly condemned the alliance as an "opportunistic move" and a "serious threat to regional and international peace and security" in a statement released Tuesday.

Both ECOWAS and the interim Malian government in Bamako say they will not recognize any declaration of independence.

ECOWAS has offered to deploy regional peacekeepers to Mali. The nation's military, already unable to halt the rebellion in the north earlier this year, is in shambles following the coup.

Many are hoping for a diplomatic solution.  Assarid said rebels are open to negotiation and have received mediators from both ECOWAS and Burkina Faso.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid