we have no relations with alqaeda
Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
Arab Today, arab today

Azawad Liberation Movement official:

We have no relations with al-Qaeda

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today We have no relations with al-Qaeda

Algiers - Sofiane Siyoucef

The spokesperson of the Azawad National Liberation Movement, Hama Ag Sid Ahmed, has denied that his movement was associated with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). "Azawad’s demands are political, social and cultural unlike the Maghreb branch of al-Qaeda which has no definite focus," said Ahmed. In an interview with Arabstoday, Ahmed spoke about the international community’s refusal to accept Azawad's recent declaration of independence, saying that the marginalisation experienced by the Azawad people since the independence of Mali was enough to give them the right to run their own affairs as they wished. Following is our interview with Hama Ag Sid Ahmed: AT: The movement declared the independence of Azawad on Friday, April 6. What are your comments? HA: The independence declaration was simply a statement that would allow us to assume responsibility over the region, even if it is said that the declaration was unilateral without consultations with Azawad citizens. The declaration should be accompanied by concrete procedures on the ground. It is necessary to ensure security in cities and villages under the control of forces belonging to the movement and also to ensure the safety of the foreigners who are living there. It's also essential to ensure the safety of humanitarian organisations that are willing to enter the region to provide aid for displaced families. We must direct a warning to AQIM in these areas. In case the movement does not do real work to gain the confidence of the international community and the people of Azawad, the independence declaration would lose its meaning. AT: Countries have unanimously rejected Azawad's secession and stressed the need for Mali to remain united. What do you think of that? HA: Today, I think the people who've been marginalised since Mali gained its independence have the right to decide on their own affairs. The issue is not just related to the Tuareg, but all of Azawad society. AT: Neighbouring countries expressed fears over the secession, like Algeria who said it would never allow harm to the unity of Mali, what is your response to that? HA: We understand Algeria's reaction, who has for years had a significant presence in the fight against terrorism. We understand their's amd the international community's fears of the expansion of this crisis. On the contrary, I think Algeria has declared its readiness to support stability in the region for the benefit of the Azawad people. AT: What is the current situation like in the north of Mali? HA: The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad is now seeking to organise itself on the ground. What is particularly important is to establish order and guarantee the safety of citizens vulnerable to thugs who are exploiting the current situation. An army should be well-established, organised, disciplined and able to conduct all necessary procedures to ensure that people are safe. AT: Has the movement been able to take control of the situation? HA: Military forces started to reorganise themselves on the ground in order to take control of all areas and ensure people's safety. The movement has not yet taken full control of the security situation, but we will achieve a lot of success and progress in the coming weeks. AT: Is there any communication between your movement and those involved in the Bamako coup? HA: No. There have been no communication or negotiations with the Bamako coup leaders. AT: What is your response to accusations that your movement is related to al-Qaeda? HA: No. We know that on the ground there's no mixing between our movement that raises political, social and cultural demands while AQIM has no focus. AT: Are there any entities or countries that supported your independence declaration? HA: There is no current external support for the declaration, and we will not rule out any serious suggestions from the international community presented for achieving permanent peace in the region. AT: In your opinion, who is behind the abduction of the Algerian diplomats? HA: The identity of the kidnappers has been revealed. The issue is related to people belong to the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, which split from AQIM at the end of 2011. Some of them are known for being involved in the narcotics industry. They are the same group that performed the March 3 suicide attack which targetted the Algerian gendarme headquarters in Tamanrasset. AT: Is there anything you would like to add at the end? HA: We demand immediate relief for over 170,000 refugees and displaced people, whether they are within our borders or have fled to neighbouring countries. There is also a need for effective support from organisations and the establishment of safe areas and crossings for humanitarian NGOS to respond to this emergency.  

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