Belgium: Billions pledged to Mali at Brussels conference

16th May 2013

International donors have pledged more than 3.25 billion euros in aid to help convert the West African state of Mali into a viable nation rather than a terrorist haven.

International donors meeting in Brussels have raised a higher-than-expected 3.25-billion-euros ($4.1 billion) to help aid reconstruction and development in Mali.

“It has been confirmed to me that more than 3.25 billion euros have been mobilized at this conference,” Hollande told donors at the conference co-hosted by the European Union and Mali’s former colonial power, France.

The money pledged well exceeds the 2 billion euros requested by Mali over the next two years which will go towards covering about half the cost of a 2013-14 economic and political reconstruction program agreed to in conjunction with the international community.

The 4.3-billion-euro rebuilding plan, billed by Brussels prior to the conference as “a total relaunch of the country,” includes various initiatives, such as organizing elections currently set down for July.

Preconditions would be tied to the aid, ensuring an open and transparent Mali, with political reconciliation and democracy pivotal in stabilizing the country and the wider Sahel region.

“That is why the elections must take place on the date indicated” of July 28, France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told attendees. “You cannot separate [the country’s development] from the democratic process.”

The crisis, he added, reflected Mali’s economic and political failings which need to be resolved.

Malian President Dioncounda Traore announced on Tuesday that the July poll would go ahead as planned, but warned the country’s electoral commission had cautioned that it might be too soon.

The contributions reflect “solidarity and support to the Malian people,” EU President Herman Van Rompuy told donors, stressing that the country needs stability and peace “for its future and that of the Africans.”

jlw/jm (dpa, AP, AFP, Reuters)


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