Mali has “turned a page in its political transition”, the European Union says, following a parliamentary election praised by international observers. The results of the second round of elections, which were held on Sunday (15 December), have yet to be announced, but for the EU the principal question was whether the conduct of the election would give the new parliament legitimacy within the country and encourage international donors to follow up on their pledges of support. Voting was marred by a suicide attack in the north-east that killed two Senegalese members of a UN peacekeeping force, but African and European observers said that the election had been acceptably free and transparent. “Nobody would have thought we could organise the return to constitutional order and the rule of law this fast,” said the leader of the EU’s observer mission, Louis Michel, a Belgian Liberal member of the European Parliament. Similar comments were made after the first round on 26 November.
Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, underlined on Monday (16 December) that the new parliament would face “immense challenges”, highlighting the need for reconciliation, national unity, a balance of powers and good governance.
A set of political, security and humanitarian crises have made Mali one of the major concerns of the EU’s foreign policy over the past two years. A military coup prompted the EU to suspend development aid to the country in 2012 and to launch a military training mission in 2013, while a southward offensive by Islamists who controlled the north of the country prompted France to intervene militarily and precipitated the arrival of a planned African military mission under the aegis of the United Nations. In May, the EU, the country’s major donor, brought together the international community in Brussels to agree on a ‘roadmap’ to stability.
Full Article: EU praises parliamentary election in Mali | European Voice.