New Tuareg chief calls for Mali peace and unity

The new Tuareg tribal chief in Mali’s Kidal region rejected the struggle for independence or autonomy in the northern desert in a statement on Wednesday, instead issuing a plea for unity.
The stance puts him on a collision course with Tuareg rebels who are demanding a separate homeland in the vast swathe of land they call “Azawad”.
“Kidal is Malian. I’m against the independence and even autonomy of Kidal,” said Mohamed Ag Intalla, who succeeded his father in December as the “Amenokal” — or highest Tuareg leader — of the northeastern Ifoghas mountains. 
Kidal, the cradle of a Tuareg separatist movement that has launched several rebellions since the 1960s, has been in the hands of rebels from the ethnic group since they ousted the Malian army in May last year.
“Kidal should even be made the capital of Mali,” Ag Intalla, who is also a ruling party lawmaker, said in his first public statement since being appointed as tribal chief.
Ag Intalla said he was planning to tour northern Mali with other community leaders to “advocate peace”.
“We must make peace. We must talk among Malians to find out how we will all benefit from development. We need to involve the people,” he said.
“There will be a mission within the Kidal region, and the same mission in the Gao region to sensitise civil society, to advocate peace.”
The severing and realignment of traditionally fragile alliances between the north’s diverse and complex armed movements has intensified around the resumption of peace talks in Algiers on February 16.

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