The tuareg rebellion: why are they fighting?

The president of Mali, Amadou Toumani Toure, has formally resigned after soldiers ousted him in a coup in March, with power set to be transferred to Mali’s National Assembly after elections later this month. The soldiers say they seized power because of Toure’s alleged mishandling of a rebellion of ethnic Tuareg rebels, who have succeeded in capturing several key northern cities, declaring their independence and now calling for international recognition. Officials claim the rebels are a mix of Tuareg separatists and Islamists with links to al-Qaeda.

Firoze Manji, editor-in-chief of Pambazuka News, argues the political unrest in Mali, Senegal and beyond is “driven by the fact that over the last 30 years, our people have lost all the gains of independence,” due in large part to what he calls neo-liberal policies imposed on many African countries by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. “People feel that their governments are more accountable to the banks and to the multi-national corporations than they are to citizens,” Manji says.

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