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Mali/donors’ conference

Published on May 22, 2013
Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic (excerpts)

Paris, May 15, 2013

(…)

This conference here in Brussels is an important event – everyone appreciates that – not simply because of the sums collected, although this is already a first sign, but because we’re proving that we, Europeans and Africans, can unite around a cause that interests us all because it represents our concern and our hope. (…)

Today, Afisma [African-led International Support Mission to Mali] is stepping back and the French army is withdrawing, according to a timetable we’re ensuring we respect, in line with the risks. A peacekeeping operation, under the aegis of the United Nations, will take over at the beginning of July. (…)

So we could tell ourselves during this conference: “we’re therefore through with it”. Well, as you’ve understood, that’s a long way off the mark! First of all because terrorism hasn’t disappeared from the Sahel. True, harsh blows have been struck against al-Qaeda and AQIM [al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb], the organization that represents its interests in Africa. True, some groups have been severely affected. We’ve also discovered quite incredible military capabilities, weapons that were hidden, food that was stocked and materiel for carrying out real, long-term fighting. (…)

But our response can’t focus entirely on security. That’s the purpose of this conference: development, political dialogue and democracy are now our weapons for preventing the terrorists from returning, by working against the very causes that enabled those groups to take root.

That’s the path Mali chose: to act when there was still time, once her territorial integrity was recovered – first of all to organize elections. The date scheduled must be kept to. I know it’s difficult, particularly in the north. We must ensure Mali’s authorities can actually have control over the territory, in order to organize these elections everywhere. No part of Mali can be detached from the electoral process.

But as I was saying, while Mali is regaining her territorial integrity and is going to organize these elections, we, her friends, must address three demands.

- First of all, the short-term emergencies. Nearly a third of northern Mali’s people chose to flee rather than undergo the medieval system being imposed on them. So a number of neighbouring countries took in those refugees. Then the terrorist groups destroyed a great many infrastructures essential to everyday life: electricity generators destroyed, water pumps put out of action, public buildings, markets, schools and health centres demolished. Our first duty is to ensure the refugees are taken in and enable life to return to normal. France will make her contribution, particularly by financing work to restore water and electricity, supply the people with medicine, open chemists’ shops etc. – in short, cover the essentials.

- The second demand is to prepare the future. The Plan for the Sustainable Recovery of Mali has been drawn up by the Malian sovereign authorities. I must say the plan deserves credit for being frank and clear-sighted about the failings of the past. The priorities for action set out in the plan are a step in the right direction – firstly because you basically want to act on revitalizing the country’s economy, and also because you confront the challenge of governance and make an effort to ensure decentralization can support Mali’s development, trusting the local authorities with 30% of the country’s revenue.

We ourselves must pledge our support, with Mali’s state and local authorities. We also think it’s necessary in this plan to strengthen all the country’s infrastructures: I’m thinking of the major project for a drinking water plant in Kabala, which will make it possible to supply a million of Bamako’s inhabitants; I’m thinking of the strengthening of agriculture, particularly the cotton industry; I’m also thinking of the micro-finance sector and the development of the private sector. Finally, education and the promotion of women’s rights will have to be the focus of special attention, in the framework of the assistance France will provide.

- The final demand is transparency and dialogue.

I’ve said the elections will have to be held on the due date. I’ve said the Malian authorities will have to have total control of their territory in order to ensure the process goes ahead at the end of July. I also say – and with the same measure of confidence and truth – that there must be a guarantee, a requirement for transparency and good governance. Every euro spent to help Mali’s development must be used efficiently. (…)

We in France will ensure we support Mali through mechanisms to pinpoint, identify and retrace how the assistance we provide is used. The aid from France destined for Mali will amount to €280 million. It’s a significant effort at a time when we’re aware of our own budgetary difficulties. I haven’t yet asked for those sums to be deducted from the demands the European Commission is making of us to reduce our deficits. But your encouragement is an additional argument!

But I want above all to welcome the European Union’s commitment: nearly €520 million for Mali. Europe, which is sometimes decried, Europe, which is sometimes judged to be absent – when you look at all the conflicts in the world, it’s Europe that is providing support and solidarity to the people. And that’s sometimes the case for other situations: Europe is often seen in a better light outside Europe than inside it. I’d like Europeans to be proud of what Europe is doing for Africa. (…)

I’ve had confirmation that more than €3.25 billion has been mobilized at this conference. As Laurent Fabius was saying, it should have lasted a week, if our ambition was to get even more contributions! But I have no doubt there will be further contributions and support.

This figure nevertheless commits us, the donors. But it’s also up to the Malians to respect commitments to reconciliation, security, the rule of law and good governance. We’re signing a contract together, a fine contract. A contract of friendship and solidarity based on the idea of development.

Because if we’ve managed to be united during the period of the war – and there has been a war –, we must now be united to succeed with the peace. (…)./.

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