OSLO, Norway, May 14, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Elections in Mali have been announced with a view to ending the political crisis that has beset the country since the military coup last year. Norway will provide NOK 40 million in funding to support the election process and the transition to legitimate governance.
“The people of northern Mali have been brutally suppressed by extremist groups. It is now essential that an effective government that enjoys the broad support of the people is put in place. The elections in July must also lay the foundation for reconciliation,” commented Minister of International Development Heikki Eidsvoll Holmås.
Mr Holmås will participate in the international donor conference on Mali to be held in Brussels tomorrow. France and the EU are hosting the conference, in close cooperation with the transitional authorities of Mali. The purpose of the conference is to mobilise funding for Mali and to support the political process of transition.
“Tomorrow an international concerted effort to get Mali back on its feet begins in Brussels. The country has a huge need for assistance in its process of reconstruction after the war. Schools and hospitals need to be built, and teachers and nurses need to return to work and be paid. The legal system needs to protect the people of Mali and ensure respect for human rights,” Mr Holmås said.
Norway’s contribution of NOK 40 million will be channelled to an election fund managed by the UN. In addition, NOK 1 million is being allocated to UNESCO’s efforts to preserve the manuscript collections in Timbuktu, which are valuable cultural heritage. Norway and other donor countries will gradually resume their development cooperation with the Malian authorities. Following the military coup in March last year, development assistance to the country was frozen. In the first instance, two food security programmes in areas particularly vulnerable to drought will be resumed. Other aid to Mali, channelled through civil society, has not been stopped.
“The crisis in Mali is symptomatic of the many challenges facing the Sahel region. Norway will intensify its efforts to promote security, stability and development in other parts of the Sahel. We will cooperate with other countries, donors and international organisations,” Mr Holmås said.
Norway has so far provided NOK 104 million in humanitarian assistance to the Sahel region.