They have won the battle, and now Tuareg rebels are consolidating their gains by setting up a 28-member Transitional Council.
No body has recognised the new government, with some actively opposing it, including Mali, the African Union, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
ECOWAS is already preparing to send in a military force of 3,000 troops and is asking the United Nations for permission and support.
Diplomats said they need to know more about the mission's objectives, strategy, and who will pay for it. Despite that, ECOWAS says the soldiers will be sent in soon.
Furthermore, the Tuareg rebels face another challenge from armed Salafist groups. These religious conservatives reject the plans for Azawad to be a secular state, wanting a government based on Islamic law instead.
Al Jazeera's Will Jordan reports.