"There is new hope, new signs of democracy at work, and a new president who was elected with the highest voter turn-out in [Mali's] history."
Mali is emerging from a period of political upheaval and armed conflict, which had worsened the already fragile humanitarian situation. Today, however, said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, "there is new hope, new signs of democracy at work, and a new president who was elected with the highest voter turn-out in [Mali's] history."
Many lives were lost in the recent conflict and thousands of families are still unable to return to their homes. But the work of individuals like Madame Fatimata Toure offers the people of Mali an example of hope for the future. During the occupation of the north, she fought against gender-based violence. She counseled and sheltered victims of rape and publicly denounced the perpetrators.
The people of Mali also demonstrated their true character when they did all they could to stop Ansar al-Dine from desecrating sacred shrines with pick-axes. Brave individuals also helped smuggle about 300,000 manuscripts out of Timbuktu libraries to safety.
On the political front, it is critical that the new government of Mali do its part. That includes calling to account those responsible for human rights abuses, guarding against corruption, and ushering in true justice.
Historically, Mali has had a media environment that is amongst the freest in Africa, but that changed after the 2012 coup when a number of journalists were intimidated, beaten, and detained without charge. It is time for the media to be able to do its job again safely and freely.
The United States believes civil society has a critical role in facilitating national reconciliation in Mali. To that end, the U.S. has worked with some 80 civil society organizations to train young people in peace building and reconciliation techniques. The U.S. has assisted in the broadcasting of radio and television presentations promoting peace and has collaborated with more than 5,000 community leaders.
Mali’s heritage is one of tolerance; "your people," said Ambassador Power, "strive for consensus; your reputation is built on mutual respect; and your future depends on your resilience and on your determination to move forward together. My government is prepared to help in whatever way we can - and I am confident that you will succeed."