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Mali Begins Path Back To Democracy

A Malian man walks between doors of closed shops in Gao, northern Mali, February 5, 2013.

Mali’s National Assembly unanimously has approved a road map for political transition.

In an important step toward returning the nation to constitutional order, Mali’s National Assembly unanimously has approved a road map for political transition. The United States welcomes the action, taken January 29th, and urges that it be implemented expeditiously, so legitimate and inclusive elections may be held this year as soon as technically feasible.

Mali Begins Path Back To Democracy
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Mali has functioned under a transitional government since shortly after a military junta forced former President Amadou Toumani Touré from office. This administration was entrusted with two tasks: holding elections to restore democratic rule, and restoring territorial integrity of northern Mali.

Wide areas of the region have been taken over by insurgents who imposed a strict interpretation of Sharia, intimidated and harassed the local population and destroyed many religious and cultural sites. Struggling in the face of these militant forces and continuing political interference from the military junta, the transition government has been hampered in moving toward elections. This equation has evolved since the French intervention in mid-January.

While short on details, this political roadmap demonstrates political consensus on two critical elements of the needed transition. It calls for transparent and credible national elections and supports negotiations with groups willing to renounce armed conflict and who support the nation’s territorial integrity.

The United States has urged and continues to urge negotiations be held between the transitional Malian government and representatives of all northern groups, including all parties that have cut their ties to terrorist organizations and who recognize without conditions the unity of the Malian state.

This is essential for long-term national unity and for reestablishing peace and security in the nation. Meanwhile, we will continue to work with our international partners as the situation on the ground in Mali evolves.