EU pledges 520m euros for Mali reconstruction

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The EU said Tuesday it will provide 520 million euros to help rebuild conflict-hit Mali, ahead of an international donors’ conference in Brussels on Wednesday from which Mali is hoping to secure around 2 billion euros of funding.

The European Union pledged Tuesday to provide 520 million euros ($674.8 million) over the next two years to help rebuild the west African country of Mali after months of conflict.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso made the announcement ahead of a major international donors’ conference in Brussels on Monday, in which Mali’s government will seek to raise funds to restore infrastructure and keep peace in the troubled country.

France launched a military intervention in Mali in January this year to oust Islamic militants who had taken control of large parts of the north of the state.

Even before France’s military action, international officials were concerned that the largely ungoverned north of Mali could act as a haven for terrorist groups plotting attacks not just in Africa but anywhere in the world.

Barroso said that the money pledged by the EU and any subsequent funds raised by Wednesday’s conference would help “establish a Mali that is stable, democratic and prosperous”.

Mali seeking 2 billion euros from international donors

Mali’s government has drawn up a comprehensive 4.3-billion-euro ($5.58-billion) rebuilding plan which includes re-establishing government institutions and the military, holding dialogues with rebels in the north, rebuilding roads and schools and reviving the economy.

Mali wants to raise nearly half of the funds – 2 billion euros – from the international community – a quarter of which has now been pledged by the EU.

“Mr Barroso announced a figure. I think that’s a good start,” Mali’s President Dioncounda Traore told reporters on Tuesday.

“Tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, in a week or in a month, it is clear that the international community, the European Union, will inject a lot more than that.”

Around 103 international delegations, including ten heads of state and government, are expected to attend the conference in Brussels, which has been organized by French President François Hollande, along with Barroso and Traore. Officials say 103 international delegations, including 10 heads of state and government, will attend.

Elections planned for July

President Traore also announced on Tuesday that Mali intends to hold its first presidential elections following the conflict on July 28th this year but that neither he nor any member of the transitional government would be a candidate for the presidency.

However, with the country still feeling the effects of the disruption caused by the recent conflict as well as facing significant security concerns, some have questioned if the date scheduled for the elections may be too early.

Although France has succeeded in pushing back the Islamists from the main urban centres of northern Mali into the mountains and desert, it has failed to stop rebels from waging a guerrilla war which has seen jihadists launch a series of suicide bombings across the north of the country.

Over a year of conflict has also resulted in the exodus of tens of thousands of refugees to the surrounding countries of Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger.

Last month, France began withdrawing its 4,500 troops deployed in Mali with plans to hand over security duties to a UN peacekeeping mission.

Source: France 24

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