Horsens, 28 May 2012/ ACP: Parliamentary members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States have rebuffed the claim of Northern Mali independence by the MNLA, and called for European counterparts to avoid organising talks with the rebel group.

At its 28th plenary session held in Horsens, Denmark, the ACP Parliamentary Assembly released a declaration today reaffirming support for Malian unity and slamming the actions of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), which continues to occupy vast areas in the Northern region.

EU Members of Parliament were urged to refrain from holding events with the MNLA, after representatives of the group were at the European Parliament in Strasbourg last Tuesday to attend an event organised by a Green Party member on “The Situation of the Tourag people in Mali – Engaging in dialogue with the MNLA”. Spokesperson Hama Ag Mahmound and former government minister Zakiyatou Oualett Halatine were invited to speak.

“It gave the impression in Mali that the European Parliament welcomed the MNLA in Strasbourg,” said MP Elhadj Haidara.

MEP Louis Michel, speaking for the ALDE Group also criticised the meeting.

“The presence of the MNLA representatives at the European Parliament is unfortunate, at a time when African States and the international community do not recognize the independence of Azawad [Northern Mali] and any false step that could risk tipping the country into catastrophe must be avoided,” he said in a statement.

ACP Parliamentarians called on MEPs “remain true to the spirit of the resolution adopted by the institution”.

The Assembly called on the international community to back ECOWAS efforts to alleviate the crisis, as well as provide emergency aid for affected communities in the North and in neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal and Mauritania, where more than 400,000 Malian refugees have fled.

(Pictured: Hon. Assarid Imbarcaouane, head of the Mali parliamentary delegation at the 28th session of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly and 23rd session of the Joint ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly currently taking place in Horsens Denmark)

– ACP Press