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Mali’s Return to Democracy Will Not End Tuareg Crisis

Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013

TIMBUKTU, Mali—The ancient desert town of Timbuktu, like much of northern Mali, is struggling to recover from the effects of a yearlong rebel occupation. Banks, schools, gas stations and other public services in the “city of 333 saints” are still inoperative but are expected to resume full operation as soon as Mali’s new head of state is sworn in on Sept. 4. The inauguration will nominally end the political drama of the past year and a half, but the deep-rooted crisis that gave birth to a self-declared independent state in Mali’s north will remain.

Timbuktu fell into rebel hands on April 1, 2012. Five days later, the Azawadi Declaration of Independence was signed by Bilal Ag Acherif, secretary-general of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), a newly formed Tuareg separatist group in Mali. The document unilaterally declared the independence of close to 60 percent of Mali’s territory.   ...

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