Ladies and Gentlemen,
South Africa welcomes the timely convening of this meeting, which in our view will lend further impetus to on-going efforts to respond comprehensively to the situation in Mali. We commend, the European External Action Service (EEAS), under the guidance of Baroness Ashton for hosting this extremely important meeting.
We concur with those who have spoken before us to underscore the fact that the situation in Mali poses a threat to regional, continental and global peace and security and, consequently we are of the firm view that it requires a multi-dimensional global response led by ECOWAS. This gathering is indeed emblematic of that global response.
South Africa applauds the efforts of ECOWAS in collaboration with the African Union, the United Nations and the International Community, especially France, in responding to the situation in Mali. We commend the efforts leading to the reclaiming of most of Mali’s territorial integrity, including the liberation of the famed, ancient city of Timbuktu.
In spite of this, we remain concerned about the presence of armed groups in northern Mali and the increased collaboration between AQIM and other extremist regional armed groups across the Sahel region right up to Somalia. In this regard, efforts need to be stepped up to promote security in Mali in particular and in the region in general. As part of its contribution to the return of security and stability in Mali, South Africa pledged USD 10 million for the building of the capacity of the Malian police force at the Mali donor conference on Mali held on 29 January 2012 in Addis Ababa.
We also remain concerned about the human rights and other violations occurring in northern Mali. In this regard we believe that no efforts should be spared in protecting vulnerable groups such as women and children and that those responsible for such violations should be held accountable for their actions.
It is evident that the single most important post-conflict challenge for the Malian polity is to develop a Malian consensus on the way forward. Through the National Negotiating Commission and National Transitional Commission, this broad-based consensus can be created and obtain legitimacy from the broadest possible mix of constituencies across Mali. We do hope that the post-conflict phase will create the space and time to generate this consensus leading to the development of a common strategic vision for the future of the country.
In this regard, we believes that the UN, ECOWAS and AU, need to continue supporting the national dialogue process with a view to developing the broadest possible consensus by Malian political forces.
In order to help ameliorate the deteriorating humanitarian situation South Africa has dispatched to Mali humanitarian aid consignment worth approximately USD 7 million, consisting of basic foods like corn, maize, baby food, etc.
We remain hopeful and confident 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.