/ 15 May 2013

Mali seeks €2bn in aid from EU

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso

"Tomorrow we will commit €520-million for Mali between 2013 and 2014," European Commission President José Manuel Barroso told reporters ahead of a conference of aid donors in Brussels on Wednesday.

Mali's President Dioncounda Traore also told the briefing the country will hold presidential elections on July 28.

"I do believe it will be kept to the 28th of July, we will do everything for the presidential elections to start on that day," Traore said.

The Malian government is seeking roughly €2-billion in support from the conference, which is being organised by the European Union, to help fund a  €4.34-billion plan to keep the peace and help restore infrastructure to the country.

"If we can get to €1.5 – 1.6-billion then I would say we are about there," Mali's President Dioncounda Traore told the briefing.

"Mr Barroso announced a figure. I think that's a good start. 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."

Islamist rebels
​The former French colony in West Africa sought urgent military support from Paris in January to halt advances by radical Islamist rebels who had seized control of the northern two-thirds of the country.

Since the intervention, Islamist rebels have been pushed back from the main urban centres of northern Mali into the mountains and desert, but the French action has failed to stop rebels from waging a guerrilla war.

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.

France is looking to withdraw thousands of its troops and hand over security duties to a UN peacekeeping mission. – Reuters