Mali Tuaregs deny alliance with Niger rebels

Bamako - Former Tuareg rebels in Mali on Sunday denied they had formed an alliance with the Tuareg rebels of northern Niger, who have recently resumed a campaign of violence.

A Tuareg group in Mali known as the May 23, 2006 Democratic Alliance for Change issued a statement denying the alliance.

Ex-Tuareg rebels in Mali have signed peace agreements with the government as a result of talks mediated by Algeria.

Last week, Hama Ag Sidahmed, a member of the May 23 group at odds with the leadership, announced the formation of a Niger-Mali Tuareg alliance "with common objectives and demands".

Since February, deadly clashes have occurred in northern Niger between the army and Tuareg rebels from the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ), which has demanded better representation of Tuaregs in the armed forces and local mining sector.

"We are asking that the MNJ no longer insert itself into the business of Tuaregs in Mali," the statement said.

"We have not signed any agreement with the MNJ. Those who speak in our name speak for themselves."

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