Mali: holding elections in July difficult but desirable, Romano Prodi tells MEPs
BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, April 9, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Holding elections in Mali in July "is going to be difficult", given the large number of displaced people and the adverse climate conditions, but "we have to organise what has become a fragmented society", UN special envoy for the Sahel Romano Prodi told Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs on Monday. He stressed that the French military intervention was "inevitable" but has not solved future non-military dilemmas.
Mr Prodi underlined that the EU must not only provide sufficient funds for the development of Mali and neighbouring countries, but also "make major political commitments". He said the aim of the international community was "not to achieve the impossible but to create a situation in which the Sahel countries can work together", starting with economic development.
In debate, MEPs stressed the need to coordinate the international community's efforts more efficiently, pointing to the large number of special envoys for the Sahel. They added that the pull out of French forces must match political and institutional process in Mali and asked for better cooperation with neighbours, as well as more involvement of different ethnic groups and tribes and the Malian Diaspora.
The foreign affairs committee chairs of the Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian parliaments, Belabbas Belkacem, Ali Kebiri and Souad Abderrahim, who also took part in the debate, briefed MEPs on the security situation in the wider region. Human trafficking, arms and drugs smuggling are major sources of funding for terrorism in the Sahel and must be stopped, they urged, adding that a peace initiative allowing for stable economic development is a prerequisite for this to happen..
Parliament's Human Rights Subcommittee will discuss human rights in the Sahel region in a resolution being drafted by Charles Tannock (ECR, UK). The first discussion of this text is expected in June.
In the Chair: Elmar Brok (EPP, DE)