National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA)


Organisation

National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA)

The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) is a predominantly Tuareg separatist movement that seeks the independence or increased autonomy of northern Mali, which Tuaregs call 'Azawad' and claim as their homeland.

The MNLA is the latest in a succession of separatist movements in northern Mali dating back to at least 1916. In its current form, the MNLA formed in 2011, and has significant representation from Tuaregs who had travelled in the mid-2000s to Libya and joined government militias there, returning to Mali in 2011 fully armed after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. Leaders of the movement include Bilal Ag Achérif as secretary general, and Mohamed Djeri Maiga as vice president.

The group is secular and ethnic in nature, though during the 2012 occupation of northern Mali it briefly allied itself with Islamist militias like Ansar Dine and MUJAO in an effort to secede from Mali.

Emily Mellgard, Centre on Religion & Geopolitics