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Main focus of Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Funding for African mission in Mali

Two women in the city of Gao, which was liberated on the weekend. (© AP/dapd)

At a donor's conference in Addis Abeba, the international community has pledged roughly 456 million dollars for an African peace mission in Mali. France's President François Hollande then announced that he intends to withdraw his troops from the country as quickly as possible. Now politicians must take command, commentators urge, putting their hopes in a peace plan for the entire region.

Libération - France

Politics must take over now

The quick success attained by the French troops in Mali cannot hide the fact that the country and the entire region stand in need of a political solution, the left-liberal daily Libération writes: "The first phase of 'Operation Serval' is winding up like a blitzkrieg: after nineteen days the enemy has vanished without really trying to defend the fortresses that only yesterday it had subjected to the most barbarous of regimes. In this way François Hollande has countered the accusations of indecision and the threats of a protracted war with energy and efficiency. ... There can be no military solution to the Malian crisis - politicians must be quick to take up where armed conflict has left off. This is not just about rebuilding a state, its institutions and its army, but also about finding an answer to the issue of the [autonomy seeking] 'Tuareg', the precondition for isolating the terrorists. France and Europe may provide assistance, nevertheless this major task concerns first and foremost the African continent.” (30/01/2013)

Helsingin Sanomat - Finland

Peace in Mali good not just for France

France has been frequently accused of pursuing economic interests in the debate over its military mission in Mali. But it is Mali and its neighbours that stand to gain most from a politically stable Sahel region, the liberal daily Helsingin Sanomat points out: "The commentaries on Mali's mineral resources often fail to mention the fact that for example the uranium deposits have so far only been charted out. Mali mines gold, it's true, but for France gold doesn't have the same strategic value as uranium, not to mention cotton, Mali's most important raw material. Naturally a stable Sahel region would be in France's interest. A third of the uranium needed for French nuclear power plants is mined in neighbouring Nigeria, for instance. But if France's military operation stabilises the region this will help above all the countries situated in the region, first and foremost Mali. Naturally this can also help increase President François Hollande's waning popularity. But what good will a boost in popularity do him in the middle of his term? Would it be worth going to war for?" (30/01/2013)

Le Temps - Switzerland

Switzerland must help with its local expertise

Since 1977 Mali has been a focus of Swiss development aid - particularly in the regions of Sikasso, Mopti and Timbuktu. Switzerland must support France with its good contacts to help secure peace in Mali, the liberal daily Le Temps urges: "France believes that as a former colonial power in the region it plays a special role, and is all the more careful not to risk becoming bogged down in the conflict. For that reason it pretends not to know what awaits it. Nevertheless it will need all the help it can get - including the competence of Switzerland, whose contacts in the region are widely regarded as excellent. ... If Switzerland wants to continue being active, it will have to defend itself against the accusations of naive optimism while trying to push through its own perspective, above and beyond the reductionist views adopted by all of those who are looking for quick solutions, however inadequate they may be. France has its work cut out for it in ensuring that its war remains just right to the end. But Switzerland must also do what it can to ensure that its knowledge of the country serves this goal." (30/01/2013)

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