Rebels who overran northern Mali earlier this week have declared independence. The EU and others quickly rejected the move, saying the territorial integrity of Mali must be respected.
The Tuareg rebels who took control of much of the northern half of Mali earlier this week have declared independence.
"The Executive Committee of the MNLA calls on the entire international community to immediately recognise, in a spirit of justice and peace, the independent state of Azawad," Billal Ag Acherif, secretary-general of the Tuareg-led National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) said in a statement posted on the rebel group's website.
The move to secede from Mali, however, appeared to have little effect in gaining international recognition.
"We will certainly not accept this declaration. It's out of the question," Richard Zinc, the head of the European Union delegation in Mali's capital, Bamako, said.
Earlier, a spokesman for the EU's top diplomat, Catherine Ashton, said the bloc respected the territorial integrity of Mali.
"We reject the MNLA's statement of independence and reiterate our call for the territorial integrity of Mali," a US State Department spokesman told the AFP news agency.
Mali's African neighbors expressed dismay over the latest twist in the country's ongoing crisis.
A statement released by African Commission President Jean Ping described the independence declaration as "null and of no value whatsoever."
The Tuareg rebels took much of the territory they now hold over a period of just three days, after renegade soldiers toppled the country's democratically elected government on March 22.
Ironically, the coup plotters, led by Captain Amadou Sanogo, said the reason they had moved to depose President Amadou Toumani Toure was their dissatisfaction with how he was dealing with the rebellion.
The 15-nation West African bloc ECOWAS has imposed economic and diplomatic sanctions on Mali in a bid to force Captain Sanogo to step down and restore civilian rule.
pfd/tm (Reuters, AP, AFP)