Addis Ababa November 4/2013 The 6th meeting of the Support and Follow-up Group (SFG) on the situation in Mali held in Bamako on Saturday reviewed developments in that country, AU said.
A press statement AU sent to ENA on Monday said the Group reviewed developments in Mali since the last meeting of the SFG, held in Bamako, on 1 July 2013.
It has also exchanged views with Malian authorities on ways to consolidate the progress made in addressing the challenges facing the country and discussed the overall security, humanitarian and development situation in the Sahel region.
The participants of the meeting welcomed the significant progress made over the past few months in stabilizing the situation in Mali.
The participants hailed the peaceful and successful presidential election, whose first round and runoff took place on 28 July and 11 August 2013, respectively.
They pledged to work with the new Government and continue to support Mali, in order to consolidate the gains made so far and enable the country to tackle the multifaceted challenges facing it.
They encouraged the Government and all Malian stakeholders in their efforts to create conditions conducive to inclusive, transparent and credible legislative elections.
The Group urged the international community to provide the required assistance, including in the area of security, financial resources, technical expertise, logistics and election observation.
The participants reiterated the importance of the full implementation of the Ouagadougou Preliminary Agreement of 18 June 2013, to ensure the effective restoration of State authority over the northern part of the country.
They demanded that the armed groups, notably the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), unconditionally and immediately vacate the governorate and radio station in Kidal and to demonstrate consistency and seriousness in their commitment to the Agreement.
They expressed concern at the prevailing volatile security situation in northern Mali and the prevailing humanitarian situation in that country, with almost half a million people displaced and at least 1.4 million in need of immediate food assistance.
The participants acknowledged the multifaceted challenges facing the Sahelo-Saharan region and stressed the need for a holistic and coordinated approach to address these challenges.
They recognized that the strengthening of State institutions, inclusive economic and social development, respect for human rights and the rule of law are necessary to ensure long-term security, development and stability in the Sahel.
Participants reiterated the need for sustained international support to the countries of Sahelo-Saharan region based on their priorities and leadership.