The European Union will pledge more than $650 million to help Mali rebuild after its conflict, ahead of a major international donors' conference in Brussels Wednesday.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso announced the European Union pledge at a joint press conference in Brussels with Malian President Dioncounda Traore. He said the funds, earmarked into 2014, could be reviewed if the situation merited.
Barroso said support from the international community was essential to guarantee a stable, democratic and prosperous Mali but that Malians and their government were key in realizing these goals. Along with security, he said the West African country needs reconciliation and political legitimacy and he saluted a blueprint that will be announced Wednesday by the interim government for getting there.
Malian authorities are hoping an international donors' meeting in Brussels will pledge about $2 billion to help bankroll an ambitious plan to establish peace and rebuild the country's economy. President Traore also said authorities will do everything possible to hold presidential elections as planned on July 28.
President Traore said Mali is committed to holding elections on time because a legitimate government is critical in facing the country's many challenges.
Mali plunged into turmoil last year following a coup that allowed Islamist fighters to take control of large parts of the north. In recent months, French and African fighters have routed many of the extremists, and a United Nations peacekeeping force is expected to deploy as of early July to help stabilize the country.