Mali (Q&A - Excerpt from the daily press briefing - May 29, 2012)

Q : Have we issued a new statement regarding the merger between the MNLA and Ansar Eddine, regarding the reality of this merger and ECOWAS’s reaction? I imagine that we fully support ECOWAS.

A : Of course. This will notably be one of the topics of discussion during Mr. Laurent Fabius’s meeting with his South African counterpart in the early afternoon; later today he will also meet with the President of Benin who is also President of the African Union and who is visiting Paris today.

With respect to Mali, I think we need to adopt a comprehensive approach. There are 3 problems in Mali. There’s a political problem, a security problem and there’s another issue that requires greater emphasis, the food problem.

The first problem is the political situation in the south, in Bamako.

The second problem is in the north, where there are two subproblems, if I may say so. Firstly, there’s the problem related to the announcement of independence by northern Mali, by Azawad. Our position is constant in this respect; we continue to see this declaration of independence by Azawad as null and void. In this respect, we urge the rebel groups in northern Mali to engage in dialogue with the Mali authorities in order to find lasting solutions to all of the problems affecting this region, i.e. the economic problems, social problems, security problems affecting the 3 regions of northern Mali. Lastly the second subproblem in northern Mali is what happened or what seems to have happened – it is still unclear – in recent days, with respect to a merger or takeover between the MNLA and Ansar Eddine. So, we had this announcement and then we noted that they weren’t completely in agreement regarding the terms of their mergers, etc. We’re concerned about the growing presence of terrorist groups in the north of the country. We urge everyone to demonstrate a spirit of responsibility so that Mali can overcome the numerous challenges it faces. And lastly, yes, we support, more than ever, the efforts of ECOWAS and all those, starting with Burkina Faso, who are trying to find solutions in order to help Mali overcome the difficulties it is facing.