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The European Union supports ECOWAS’ military campaign in Mali with a grant of 76 Million Euros

By Maureen Chigbo  |  Apr. 22, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

THE European Union, EU, has demonstrated its unwavering support to the ECOWAS campaign to end the crisis in Mali with a grant of 76 million Euros. The grant will also be used to strengthen the implementation of the regional protocol liberalising the intra-community movement of citizens.

Fifty million Euros of the amount will go mainly towards the payment of the salaries of the African-led International Mission in Mali, AFISMA, while the remaining 26 million Euros will assist the region in addressing free movement and immigration issues. The EU had pledged the grant during the donors’ conference hosted by ECOWAS at the African Union, AU, summit in Addis Ababa on January 29.

The agreement was signed by Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, president of  ECOWAS Commission, and Ambassador David MacRae, head, EU delegation to Nigeria, Tuesday, April 9, at the just-ended three-day 9th ECOWAS/Development Partners’ annual coordination meeting which opened on Monday. “The provision of the sum of 50 million euros has once again demonstrated the EU’s unwavering resolve to assisting ECOWAS in the management of the crisis in Mali and the consolidation of peace and security in West Africa,”  Ouedraogo said at the agreement signing ceremony.

He also paid tribute to the EU, whose team “worked assiduously to establish the finance cell in the commission.” That, he explained, would support ECOWAS in ensuring that the fund was managed in line with EU procedures, adding that AFISMA was on the threshold of its consolidation and stabilisation phase. “I have no doubt that ECOWAS will still count on the support of the  EU and all other development partners for AFISMA and the Mali Security and Defence Forces in this most critical and logistics intensive phase, “ he said.

The ECOWAS president underscored the importance of the EU support for free movement and immigration in the region, saying this “will magnify the vital cooperation between ECOWAS and the EU in one aspect of the integration process. “For us to realise the dream of economic growth, regional development and integration, community citizens’ rights of entry, residence and establishment must be fully guaranteed and migration and labour mobility must be effectively coordinated and managed,” Ouedraogo said.

While he acknowledged the challenges to the seamless implementation of the regional flagship protocol, he described the signing of the agreement which would assist the region address some of the “critical priority areas identified for the seamless implementation of the Protocol, as timely.”

These are in the areas of strengthening the capacities of the commission to promote intra-regional dialogue on free movement and migration issues and those of member states in the area of migration data management, policy development, border management, labour migration management and human trafficking.

Responding, MacRae said the signing “concretises the pledge made during the donors’ conference and a demonstration of the EU commitment to supporting the long-term objective of assisting Mali to fully restore state authority, law and order, in addition to providing necessary support to the stabilisation process in the country at the political and military levels as well as contributing to its early recovery.”

He said the EU also pledged to support the road map for the transition to democratic and constitutional rule, national inclusive dialogue as well as free and fair elections, and urged the Malian authorities to accelerate the full return to constitutional rule and the political reconstruction of the country.

As evidence of its support for Mali’s development, MacRae said the EU has resumed development aid to the country for which 250 million euros is available from the European Development Fund, in addition to another 20 million euros in fast-disbursing assistance from the EU’s instrument for stability. He praised ECOWAS for the swift deployment of regional troops in support of French and Chadian forces who are taking the battle against “terrorist and criminal groups to their retreat in the north of Mali.

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