Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to join those who have spoken before us in expressing our thanks and gratitude to the EU, Mali and France for taking the initiative of convening this timely conference. We wish to take this opportunity to renew the fraternal ties of friendship and solidarity that bind the people’s of South Africa and Mali.
This conference follows on the success of a similar conference convened by the European External Action Service (EEAS) in February , as well as the Mali Donor conference convened by the African Union in Addis Ababa on 29 January this year. We are hopeful that this conference will generate the required pledges to support the Malian multi-annual development plan.
South Africa applauds the efforts of ECOWAS in collaboration with the African Union, the United Nations and the international community, especially France, in addressing the situation in Mali, which as various delegations have underscored, poses a grave challenge to peace and stability in the entire Sahel region and the continent. We commend particularly, the efforts in reclaiming the territorial integrity of Mali, including the liberation of the ancient city of Timbuktu.
South Africa welcomes the endorsement, on 29 January 2013, by Mali’s National Assembly, of the Transition Roadmap following its adoption and presentation to Parliament by the Government.
This development will contribute to further mobilizing the international community in support of the Malian Government’s efforts to liberate the northern part of the country and to organize free, fair and transparent elections that will mark the end of the transitional period.
We wish to renew our appeal to the leaders and all Malian stakeholders to work together, in a spirit of harmony and responsibility, towards the implementation of the various components of the Roadmap and to refrain from any acts likely to undermine this process. We hope that, in so doing, the Malian people will be empowered to achieve their legitimate aspiration for peace, unity, democracy and prosperity.
We are convinced that the single most important political challenge for the Malian polity is to develop an intra-Malian consensus on the way forward. This, we believe should be achieved through the transitional institutions, namely the National Negotiating Commission and National Transitional Commission. It is critical that a broad-based consensus is created with the participation of Malian political formations. In this regard it is encouraging to note that the Malian Government has requested the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) to help create the necessary political space for national negotiations. South Africa fully supports this process.
Mr. Chairman, I am happy to inform this august assembly that South Africa has already pledged $10 million for the capacitation of police forces within the framework of the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA),in addition to the approximately €10 million in humanitarian assistance we have already dispatched to Mali.
Finally, we remain convinced that the efforts of the international community will help contribute to the return of peace in Mali, the building of national unity and reconciliation, and create conditions for long-term peace and stability in the Sahel region.
I thank you,