The mutinous soldiers who attacked Mali’s presidential palace and other locations in the capital city of Bamako Wednesday (March 21) has caused nearly a billion dollars worth of development aid hanging in the balance.
On the day the soldiers declared on national TV that they have taken control of the country, the Millennium Challenge Corp., the African Development Bank and the World Bank announced suspension of their development operations in Mali. The Netherlands’ €50 million ($66.3 million) development aid package for Mali for 2012 has been suspended as well, Minister for International Cooperation Ben Knapen said in a statement.
More donors have since followed suit.
In a statement released March 23, EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs said all of the bloc’s development operations in Mali will be on hold until the situation there “clarifies.” The suspension does not affect humanitarian aid, he added.
The European Commission has allocated $583 million ($773.67 million) in development aid to Mali for the period 2008-2013. This aid mainly supports economic development, water development, food security and civil society activities.
On March 24, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Minister of International Cooperation Beverly Oda issued a similar statement, saying the country “is suspending aid programs involving direct payments to the government of Mali, effective immediately.” These suspensions, however, do not include the Canadian International Development Agency’s humanitarian assistance programs.
Germany and Spain have suspended funding for development projects and programs in Mali as well. U.S. State department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing that unless the situation is resolved “dramatically,” about $70 million in U.S. aid to Mali will be at risk.
Further, the African Union announced March 23 that Mali is temporarily suspended from participating in all of the bloc’s activities until “constitutional order” is restored.
Mali has had relative peace until January, when Tuareg rebels launched new offensives in the northern part of the country. In addition, Mali is among the countries in the Sahel region experiencing worsening food crisis and aid agencies fear the coup would exacerbate the food situation there, AlertNet reports.
The mutinous soldiers arrested several government officials, who the coup leader said will be turned over unharmed to the country courts, the National Post reports. The whereabouts of Mali President Amadou Toumani Touré are still unclear, the newspaper adds.
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