Negotiations between two rebel groups in Mali's north, who signed an initial agreement to merge and create a new Islamic state, have run into problems over the imposition of Shariah law and the influence of an al-Qaeda-linked group, said representatives from both groups.

The National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad, a separatist group fighting for independence, and Ansar Dine, which wants to impose an extreme form of Islam, took over the northern half of Mali in late March when a coup in the distant capital, Bamako, caused disorder in the country.

The two groups had often fought together against the government before March, but there has been rivalry since they gained control of major towns. Fighters have occupied different parts of each city and compete for whose flag should fly over key buildings.

Keywords: Mali coup

More In: International | News