Mali is in danger of frittering away the opportunity to tackle corruption and stamp out the abuse of power by officials as democracy returns to the country, two years on from the 2012 coup.
Malian people need to see significant changes in the way the country is governed, including the fairer distribution of development aid, according to a new report today. The Mali government and donors meet in Brussels on the 5th of February to discuss the country’s future.
Worldwide development organisation Oxfam and its Malian civil society partners have co-authored the paper, What next for Mali? Four priorities for better governance. They say donors also must do more to ensure that the relationship between the Malian government and its citizens is strengthened and made more transparent, fair, inclusive and accountable.
Mohamed L. Coulibaly, Country Director for Oxfam in Mali said, “Mali stands at a cross-roads. Officials meeting in Brussels this Wednesday 5th of February must place justice, reconciliation, citizen participation, and equitable development at the heart of their discussions. Civil society has been working on these issues for a long time and we are ready to work with the government too.”
At the 2013 Brussels summit donors committed €3.2 bn to the development and reconstruction of Mali. However, exactly how much of that actually made it into Mali remains difficult to assess, due to the complexity of the commitments. Funds that were received have helped to support elections and some reconstruction efforts, but much more is needed to ensure the restoration of a democratic order, good governance and to put an end to corruption.
Malian civil society organisations and Oxfam want all pledges properly tracked, as recommended by the International Initiative on Aid Transparency (IIATA).
Ibrahima Koreissi, national coordinator for Deme So Association said, “Peace and stability require justice and reconciliation. Even before the conflict, there was very little access to justice for women and men living in poverty outside the capital of Bamako. Donors and the government of Mali are responsible for the transition to peace providing justice for all, including victims of abuse.”
Mali only has around 270 lawyers among a population of 15 million, and just four women in a cabinet of 34 ministers. Its Commission for Truth, Justice and Reconciliation is not yet fully functioning. Donors and the Malian government must commit to making justice more effective and increase women’s participation in political processes.
Bintou Samaké, Wildaf president said: “Malian women should be equally represented in decision-making positions, starting within the government. Only 1 per cent of Mali’s mayors are women. The EU generously supported the presidential and legislative elections, so it’s important that during the April municipal elections the EU and other donors specifically support women to be candidates.”
Coulibaly said: “The situation in northern Mali remains fragile. Donors must not forget that more than 800,000 people need immediate food assistance due to the impact of conflict, weak harvests, and poor rains. Mali needs a comprehensive response to the many challenges it faces.”