A historical day for Mali

For many reasons, it was a historic day for the Joint ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly observer mission to the presidential election in Mali. The mission was jointly led by Mr. Patrice Tirolien for the EU side and Ms. Joyce Laboso for the ACP side.

Mr. Tirolien recalled that the ACP-EU JPA had keenly monitored the impact of the war in Libya on Mali and the Sahelo-Saharan region, and had adopted several resolutions and declarations on the situation. The JPA was therefore devoting special attention to monitoring the ongoing electoral process.

"We have noted, with cautious satisfaction," he said, "that at least this phase of normalisation of the situation in Mali has progressed smoothly, and I would like to commend the Malian people who have clearly understood what is at stake and therefore turned out in large numbers to vote."

This massive mobilisation of the population is in fact quite exceptional in a country where voter turnout is usually very low. Women and young people were among those mobilised. This demonstrates the determination of Malians to see democratic legitimacy restored and proves that they have understood what is at stake in this election, including in the north of the country, even if there was a lower voter turnout in that region.

Additionally, the dramatic circumstances from which the country is only now emerging did not prevent a very sophisticated electoral process from being put in place. Nearly all voters received biometric identify cards. This helped the authorities to compile, for the first time, a civil status file. In addition, the overwhelming commitment of the Malian Authorities ensured a trouble-free election day. The JPA delegation commended the transitional government for the work done.

Naturally, considerable logistical problems were observed and will be the focus of recommendations by the European Mission. Organisational problems in the refugee camps and abroad should also not be under-estimated. That having been said, nearly all Malians were able to cast their votes freely. This is quite remarkable in such exceptional circumstances.

Initial reports from observers indicate that the candidate who wins will have indisputable legitimacy, given the smooth conduct of the election process. He or she will be the President of all Malians. It will be his/responsibility to ensure that the country is stabilised, the reconciliation process is continued and that the country is rebuilt as a state in which all Malians feel at home.

The goal of this campaign was also to create a plural political system which should not disappear after the election but, on the contrary, be built up in preparation for the legislative and municipal elections ahead. Let us not forget that the existence of an opposition is a guarantee of democracy.

Now that democratic legitimacy has been restored, the new authorities in power must strive to resolve the problems in Mali, particularly those that led to the conflict and coup d'Etat.

Mr. Chegou was pleased that "the smooth completion of this step in the recovery process in Mali will also serve as a point of departure for the stabilisation of the Sahelo-Saharan region."

List of European Parliament Members:

– Patrice Tirolien (S&D), Vice-President of the ACP-EU JPA

– Nicole Kiil-Nielsen (Greens/ALE)

– Niccolò Rinaldi (ALDE)

List of ACP Parliamentarians:

– Joyce Laboso (Kenya), Co-President of the ACP-EU JPA

– Abdourahamane Chegou (Niger), Vice-President of the ACP-EU JPA

– Bruno Lengkon (Vanuatu), Vice-President of the ACP-EU JPA