THE people of Azawad have today, Friday April 6 2012, formally declared their irrevocable independence.
The statement from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (Mouvement National De Liberation de l'Azawad - MNLA) refers to the "complete liberation of the territory of Azawad" achieved in the remarkable final uprising which began in January this year.
It recalls that in 1960 Azawad was attached to the state of Mali, created by France - the former colonial power - without the consent of its people.
And it mentions the massacres, extortion, humiliation, despoilment and genocide carried out against Azawad in 1963, 1990, 2006, 2010 and 2012.
It condemns the "inhuman behaviour" of Mali in using various droughts (1967, 1973, 1984, 2010….) to try and wipe out the people of Azaward at the same time as it had asked for and received generous humanitarian aid from overseas.
Announcing the permanence of the borders of the liberated territory and Azawad's total commitment to the United Nations charter, the statement calls on the international community to recognise the new independent state of Azawad with minimum delay.
Azawad consists of the regions of Timbuktu, Kidal, Gao, as well as a part of Mopti region and borders Mali and Burkina Faso to the south, Mauritania to the west and northwest, Algeria to the north, and Niger to the east and southeast. It straddles a portion of the Sahara and the Sahelian zone.
Azawad is said to be an Arabic corruption of the Berber word "Azawagh", a dry river basin that covers western Niger, northeastern Mali, and southern Algeria. The name translates to "land of transhumance".