Mali seeks $2.6bn in financial aid from EU

Former French colony asking for help to rebuild country and stop resurgence of armed fighters.

    Mali seeks $2.6bn in financial aid from EU
    French President Francois Hollande and Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou pushed for July elections [Reuters]

    Mali will ask international donors for nearly two billion euros ($2.6 billion) to help rebuild the country and try to halt a resurgence of fighters who were driven out of the major northern towns by a French-led offensive.

    A draft request for funds released on Friday coincided with the announcement by French President Francois Hollande and his Niger counterpart, Mahamadou Issoufou, to push for a nationwide elections in Mali by the end of July. France and Niger have troops in Mali. 

    According to the document drafted for the conference, to be held in Brussels on Wednesday, the Malian government said it could only raise slightly over half the proposed $5.6bn budget needed for recovery for 2013 and 2014.

    The draft said it needed help from its European Union donors to finance the remaining part. The conference is organised jointly by France and the European Union.  

    In a document posted on the website of the conference, the international community was strongly solicited to finance and implement the plan.

    To overcome the crisis and begin a sustainable development, Mali needs and depends on the technical and financial support of the international community, the document said.

    According to diplomatic sources, the conference will seek to raise at least $600m to $700m.

    The plan sets twelve priorities for the country, including peacekeeping, the fight against corruption, and organising credible elections

    Military victory 

    In Paris, Hollande and Issoufou portrayed the French-led intervention as a military victory.

    The French, helped by troops from neighbouring African countries including Niger, launched a military operation to take back the north of Mali on January 11.

    "I've always said that there are still armed groups in Mali," Hollande told reporters. He reiterated that for this reason 1,000 French soldiers will remain until the end of the year "who can in any event intervene if ... there were terrorist actions".

    The initial offensive led by the French succeeded in freeing the major towns in the north from the grips of the fighters, who occupied a France-sized territory a year ago, imposing Shariah law and opening terrorist training camps.

    However, the northern provincial capital of Kidal was quickly retaken by a Tuareg rebel group, known as the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad.

    The fighters fled into the surrounding desert and there have been repeated suicide attacks, including at least four in Gao, and two each in Timbuktu and Kidal.

    Simultaneous attacks

    Back in Mali, five suicide bombers have carried out two simultaneous attacks on soldiers in another indication of the growing coordination of operations by militants against African and French forces.

    Four men entered the northern Malian town of Gossi at around early Friday morning, according to local official Sidi Ben Hamou.

    Three blew themselves up at a military checkpoint, wounding two Malian soldiers.

    Another attacker in a vehicle laden with explosive tried to enter a military camp in the town of Menaka, authorities said.

    It was not clear how many jihadists were inside the vehicle, but there were no casualties among the military contingent from Niger.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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