Tuareg fighters who fought for former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi were reported earlier this month to have returned to Mali to start a new rebel group. In an email interview, Baz Lecocq, professor of history at Ghent University, discussed Tuareg rebel groups.
WPR: What are the main Tuareg rebel groups, and what are their main objectives?
Baz Lecocq: Beginning with the start of decolonization in the 1950s, groups of Tuareg have protested, violently or otherwise, about their inclusion in Africa’s newly independent states, especially in Mali and Niger. In the 1990s, Tuareg in Mali and Niger engaged in protracted guerrilla warfare against these states, followed by a decade of peace. More recently, new rebel movements emerged -- the Democratic Alliance for Change (ADC) in Mali in 2006 and the Nigerien Movement for Justice (MNJ) in Niger in 2007 -- but they reached new agreements with the national governments of both countries in 2006 and 2009 respectively. Neither movement had separatist goals. However, a splinter group called the Mali Niger Tuareg Alliance for Change (ATNMC), uniting fractured elements from both the Nigerien and Malian movements and seen as more “hardline” in demands for autonomy or independenmoce, kept fighting until 2009.