18 February 2013

West Africa: Third Mali Confab Ends in Brussels

As a follow-up to its Abidjan and Bamako meetings on June 7 and October 19, 2012, the Support and Follow-up Group on the Situation in Mali, last week, ended its 3rd meeting in Brussels.

The Foreign Ministry in Monrovia quoted participants as recalling that their Bamako meeting of 19 October 2012 constituted a decisive step in enhancing the support of the international community for Mali, enabling the Malian stakeholders to take ownership of efforts to find a lasting solution to the multi-dimensional crisis facing their country.

They also noted with satisfaction that the meeting was being held against the background of the liberation of major towns in the north of the country and encouraging prospects for the conclusion of the Transition.

They strongly condemned the attack launched, on 10 January 2013 by the armed terrorist and criminal groups against the positions of the Malian army in the Mopti area, as well as crimes against civilians and other violations of international humanitarian law committed by them, including the destruction of monuments and manuscripts of historical, cultural and religious significance.

The participants also strongly condemned the terrorist attack at the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria, reiterating the need to continue the fight against terrorism and criminal networks, as well as to enhance cooperation amongst all the actors concerned.

During the Brussels discussions, the participants welcomed the remarkable progress made on the ground, including the regaining of control of the major towns in the northern part of the country by the Malian Government, following its military operations with crucial support from France to counter the offensive launched by the armed terrorist and criminal groups.

They expressed their deep appreciation for the prompt and effective support given by France at the request of the Government of Mali and ECOWAS, within the framework of international legality.

The participants also welcomed the commencement of the deployment of AFISMA, stressing the need to speed up the process in order to consolidate the gains made on the ground, further appealing to all countries and organizations concerned to quickly fulfill their pledges made at the donors' conference held in Addis Ababa on 29 January 2013, by shortly confirming the modalities of disbursement and utilization of their contributions.

They requested the AU, ECOWAS and United Nations, in consultation with the Malian authorities, to ensure the necessary follow up, underscoring the need for additional support, particularly from countries which could not, because of various constraints, make pledges on the occasion of the Addis Ababa donors' conference, to enable AFISMA to operate in the most conducive conditions and effectively discharge its mandate of helping Mali to liberate all the occupied territories.

An agreement was also reached for their next meeting in Bamako, in March 2013. The participants expressed gratitude to the EU for hosting the meeting and the excellent arrangements made to ensure the smooth running of the proceedings.

The European Union (EU) was represented by Catherine Ashton, the High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, co-chaired by the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ramtane Lamamra, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and the President of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo.

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Mali, Tieman Hubert Coulibaly, Territorial Administration and Decentralization, Moussa Sinko Coulibaly, and Humanitarian Action, Mamadou Sidibé, participated in the meeting amid Foreign Ministers and other senior officials of the countries of the region and other African Union (AU) Member States, as well as bilateral and multilateral international partners.

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