The African Union (AU) on Friday rejected a claim of independence by Tuareg rebels in northern Mali, hours after an official statement by their mainstream MNLA movement.
AU Commission chief Jean Ping said the pan-African bloc completely rejected the MNLA declaration of independence in northern Mali.
Earlier in the day, the MNLA put "Declaration of Independence of Azawad" on its website, proclaiming an "irreversible Independent State of Azawad on Friday, April 6, 2012."
The MNLA formed late last year fought alongside Islamist Ansar Dine and some other rebel factions in the past two weeks in the aftermath of the March 22 military coup, sweeping through northern Mali, larger than France, in swift operations.
For the first time since Mali's independence from France in 1960, Tuareg rebels have taken hold of the desert north in the West African country, where they had previously attempted several times.