The crisis in Mali has entered a new stage, after northern Tuareg rebels declared independence. The international community, including France and the African Union Commission has rejected the announcement.
Azawad, that's what rebels are calling their new state.
The declaration comes after fighters seized control of the country's distant north in the chaotic aftermath of a military coup in the capital.
The rebels have been attempting to claim independence for more than 50 years and the confusion in the capital created an strategic opening for the secessionist movement.
Meanwhile on Thursday , the military chiefs of countries bordering Mali met in the Cote d'lvoire to hash out plans for a military intervention to push back the rebels in the north. The chiefs also planned to restore constitutional rule after disgruntled soldiers last month stormed the presidential palace and sent the democratically elected leader into hiding.
Friday's declaration of independence was immediately rejected and dismissed by France, the country's former colonial ruler.
A French foreign ministry spokesman described the rebels' independence announcement as a unilateral decision, and called for the rebels to respect Mali's unity.
Bernard Valero, French Foreign Ministry spokesman, said, "We consider that the unilateral decision of independence of the Azawad by the MNLA is null and void. We call on the MNLA to inscribe its action in the frame of a political dialogue, respectful to the rules of the Mali constitution and to the country's unity."
While France argues that there is no military solution to the rebellion, Sarkozy left the door open to intervention, as a last resort.
The African Union Commission has also rejected the declaration and called on the rest of the world to shun their session bid.
In statement, they described the announcement as null and void.
Already suffering from the chaotic after affects of last month's military coup, whether this country's stays unified remains to be seen.