Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has rejected the attempt to establish the ‘Islamic State of Azawad’ in the occupied northern territory of Mali, following the merger of the Tuareg-led rebel National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and Ansar Dine on 26 May 2012.
''ECOWAS strongly condemns this opportunistic move, which will only worsen the plight of the populations already suffering atrocities and deprivation in the occupied Malian territory, and further threaten regional peace and security,'' the regional bloc said in a statement.
''ECOWAS wishes to reiterate that it will never compromise on the territorial integrity of Mali. ECOWAS does not recognize the so-called declaration of independence,'' it said.
ECOWAS said the latest development is a serious threat to regional and international peace and security, and reiterated its offer for a negotiated settlement to any genuine grievances.
It restated its determination to ''take all necessary measures to prevent the descent of northern Mali into a zone of lawlessness for terrorists and other criminal networks, and to assist Mali to re-establish the unity and territorial integrity of the country''.
MNLA and Ansar Dine declared the Islamic state at the weekend, after they announced their merger.
The deployment of a 3,000 strong ECOWAS force to Mali is being delayed by the non-request of the deployment by the Malian authorities.
-0- PANA SEG 29May2012