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By Godfrey Olukya   10-4-2013
The European Union, EU, has provided funds to support the African -led mission in Mali (AFISMA).
The 76 million euros funds, to be used by ECOWAS is also  meant  to strengthen the implementation of the regional protocol liberalizing the intra-community movement of citizens.
ECOWAS and the European Union yesterday in Abuja, signed the grant agreement for 76 million Euros.
According to a statement issued by ECOWAS, fifty million of the grant will go mainly towards the payment of the salaries of the force while the remaining 26 million Euros will assist the region in addressing free movement and immigration issues.The EU had pledged the grant during the donors’ conference hosted by ECOWAS on the margins of the AU summit in Addis Ababa on 29th January 2013.

The agreement was signed by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Kadre Desire Ouedraogo and the Head of the EU delegation to Nigeria, Ambassador David MacRae on the sidelines of the ongoing three-day 9th ECOWAS Development Partners annual Coordination meeting which opened on Monday.

‘The provision of the sum of 50 million euros has once again demonstrated the EU’s unwavering resolve to assisting ECOWAS in the management of the crisis in Mali and the consolidation of peace and security in West Africa, ‘the ECOWAS boss said at the signing ceremony.

He also paid tribute to the EU, whose team, he said, worked assiduously to establish the finance cell in the Commission, that will support ECOWAS in ensuring the fund is managed in line with EU procedures. 

‘AFISMA is on the threshold of its consolidation and stabilization phase. I have no doubt that ECOWAS will still count on the support of the EU and all other development partners for AFISMA and the Mali Security and Defence Forces in this most critical and logistics intensive phase, ‘the president added.

He underscored the importance of the EU support for free movement and immigration in the region, saying this will ‘magnify the vital cooperation between ECOWAS and the EU in one aspect of the integration process.’

‘For us to realize the dream of economic growth, regional development and integration, community citizens’ rights of entry, residence and establishment must be fully guaranteed and migration and labour mobility must be effectively coordinated and managed, ‘President Ouedraogo said.

Ambassador MacRae said, The signing concertizes the pledge made during the donors conference and a demonstration of the EU commitment to supporting the long-term objective of assisting Mali fully restore state authority, law and order, in addition to providing necessary support to the stabilization process in the country at the political and military levels as well as contributing to its early recovery.’

He said the EU has also pledged to support the road map for the transition to democratic and constitutional rule, national inclusive dialogue as well as free and fair elections, and urged the Malian authorities to accelerate the full return to constitutional rule and the political reconstruction of the country.

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