Rabat — The interim government in Mali is working toward the return to normal political conditions and holding democratic elections once the military operation is over.
The situation is almost stable in Timbuktu and Gao, said Malian Communications Minister and government spokesperson Manga Dembele on Saturday (March 23rd) during the Global Growth Conference at the Amadeus Institute in Rabat, Morocco.
"The Malian government and its partners are controlling the situation after the armed groups were expelled from the two cities," Dembele stated. "We're currently carrying out combing operations to cleanse the two cities once and for all of terrorists and outlawed militants."
"We won't tolerate any armed or terrorist groups regardless of their type," he added.
The African and French forces have defeated armed groups in northern Mali and expelled them outside provincial capitals, Dembele explained. "Now the African and French forces are chasing the last armed groups in Kidal," he said.
The Malian government is working on preparing for the post-military operation stage and on getting past the transition as soon as possible.
"We're committed to holding democratic elections next July, and it's going to be presidential and legislative elections at the same time," the minister said. "As members of the interim government, we've pledged not to run for this election because we can't be opponent and referee at the same time."
He noted that neither Mali's interim President Dioncounda Traoré nor coup leader Amadou Sanogo would run in the expected presidential election. He noted that Sanogo is a military officer and not a civilian official.
Dembele told Magharebia that the mandate of the African and French forces currently present in Mali would be transferred to a UN peacekeeping force.
The two-day Global Growth Conference discussed the security situation in Mali, the Sahel and the Maghreb, and its effect on growth and investment in the region. It also examined the Euro zone crisis and the global economic situation.
Four hundred political and economic decision-makers from 19 countries took part in the event.
The most prominent recommendations made by participants were to accelerate Maghreb integration and hold a global conference on security in Mali and Sahel.
"The institute wants to open a new international forum for dialogue and exchange in the economic field, like MEDays forum which is organised by Amadeus Institute every year in Tangier, and which has become an essential event for political decision-makers in southern countries," Brahim Fassi Fihri, head of the Amadeus Institute, told Magharebia.
The 2012 MEDays focused on the Mali crisis, the terrorist threat to the Maghreb, post-Kadhafi Libya and Sahel security. The 5th edition of the influential forum also discussed the global economic crisis and prospects for development in Africa.
"The Amadeus Institute organised a number of seminars and forums over the past several years in order to alert the international community to the dilemma of the Sahel and the Sahara," Fassi Fihri told Magharebia.
He added: "The situation in the Sahel and the Sahara is among the most important security issues for the international community [...]. This region, an area of up to 2,000km on the outskirts of Europe, is witnessing a unique overlap of political and geostrategic problems that makes it like a bag of gunpowder."