Ansar Dine Seeking Algeria's Mediation in Mali Crisis

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A spokesman for the Malian Islamist group Ansar Dine says it has sent a "high-ranking" delegation to meet with Algerian officials and seek that nation's mediation in the Mali crisis, Atef Kadadra reports.

The official spokesman for the Ansar Dine movement, Sanda Ould Bouamama, told El-Khabar that its delegation had been dispatched to Algeria to meet with Algerian officials to “explain our point of view.''

Ould Bouamama refused to provide details about the delegation, but described it as “high-ranking.”

He said that “the key to a solution in northern Mali is in the hands of Algeria, but some countries are seeking to surpass and confiscate the role of Algeria.''

El-Khabar asked Ould Bouamama about the nature of the task, which reportedly involved sending a delegation from the movement to Algeria in the last few days.

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He said, “It is a visit made by the delegation within the framework of the continuous consultations between sisterly Algeria, the great state and adopted mediator for us.''

In a phone interview, Ould Bouamama said: ''The solution will be reached through the gate of Algeria.''

The Ansar Dine spokesman refused to disclose details on the discussions that took place between the two sides, or the identity of the members of the delegation that visited Algeria.

He explained: ''Our position was clear during our meeting with the Algerian officials, as was the position of the Algerian government, which we see as an advanced position.''

Asked about labeling Ansar Dine as a “terrorist organization no different than al-Qaeda,” Ould Bouamama replied: ''The term terrorist movement is being used to describe any side that opposes [the status quo], and the resistance is being labeled according to this perspective.''

The Ansar Dine movement demands the application of the Shariah law. It was founded by the traditional leader Iyad Ghali, a descendant of the historical leading families of the Ifoghas Tuareg tribes.

In this regard, Ould Bouamama said, ''Whenever the West seeks to remove legitimacy from a certain Muslim side, it describes it as terrorist, which is a mere label.”

He said that the aim behind linking Ansar Dine to terrorism is to exclude it from any possible dialogue.

He added: ''To say that the Ansar Dine movement is a terrorist organization is ridiculous. Even the Algerian mujahideen in the liberation revolution were described as such.''

The Ansar Dine spokesman expressed hope for a conclusive solution in northern Mali that would “end a 49-year-old problem, which involves a region and a marginalized people. Although they have the right to live in dignity like other peoples of the world, the people of the [Azawad] region did not even have the right to live like animals.''

The spokesman alludes to a ''grand conspiracy'' that may hinder the achievement of conclusive solutions. He said: “We believe that the key to the solution is in Algeria, but some are seeking to surpass and confiscate its role."

“I believe that these countries are trying to supersede their borders,'' he added.

When asked whether the movement is still allied with the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), he moved on to talk about the French role in particular: “Our alliance with the movement was aimed at reaching a common approach, but the French only want to include in the dialogue [parties] that serve their agenda.''

He said that “it is a game and major conspiracy that transcends northern Mali to southern Algeria and northern Niger.”

Ould Bouamama added, “The game is very serious and not as simple as some might imagine. There is a serious attempt to plunge the region into a bad scenario.''

He referred to [an incident that took place in] 1991, when then Algerian Foreign Minister Lakhdar Brahimi said that “the drums of war are beating in Mali, but the problem is that a composer is behind it.''

Ould Bouamama concluded: ''Let the people of the region know that what is being planned is a new-old project that is being run from the Brussels border.”

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Found in: movement for tawhid and jihad in west africa (mujao), islamists, azawad
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