By Karafillis Giannoulis
Diango Sissoko, the Malian interim Prime Minister has promised that elections in Mali will take place in July.
Sissoko visited Gao in Northern Mali. This was the first visit by a senior government in the region since the French forces freed Gao from all the al Qaeda linked rebels in January. The Malian PM stressed that there is “no question over the holding of elections in July. All the necessary steps are being and will be taken.” According to experts, it is not sure that the elections of July will be successful due to fears that the preparations won’t be completed.
On 9 April, the External Relations Committee of the European Parliament hosted UN Special Envoy for the Sahel region Romano Prodi. Prodi told the Committee that holding elections in Mali is going to be difficult, because of the large number of displaced people and the adverse climate conditions. However, the UN envoy stressed that “we have to organise what has become a fragmented society.” On February, the UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman has underlined that elections in Mali are crucial for the political reconciliation and stablilisation of the African nation. Therefore the UN political chief promised that international organisation will help Mali to hold “credible and legitimate” elections by the end of July. According to Reuters, Paris is also pushing for presidential and legislative elections in Mali in three months.
In the meantime, the first 120 French troops withdrew from Mali. However, the situation in the country is not yet stabilised and the French government has acknowledged the great risk of a security vacuum, after the full withdrawal of the French troops. Therefore, according to France 24, there is a plan circulated by the UN, of AFISMA troops transferring control to a UN peacekeeping force.