A conference for the reconstruction of Mali is to be held in Brussels on Wednesday (15.05.2013). It aims to raise nearly two billion euros ($2.5 billion) for the West African country which is still not at peace.
In a meeting with Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed how important the Brussels conference is for the reconstruction of Mali.
On Sunday (12.05.2013), Malian soldiers left the city of Gao and began marching towards the city of Kidal in the north-east of the country.
Currently, Kidal is controlled by rebels of the MNL, a Tuareg liberation movement.
Ulich Delius of the German-based Society for Threatened Peoples, which also campaigns for the rights of the Tuaregs, hopes that the arrival of the soldiers in Kidal will coincide with the start of the donor conference in Brussels.
"People are watching closely to see how the Malian army will deal with the Tuaregs, both armed and unarmed. And there is fear that there will be further attacks," Delius told DW.
Delius says at least 400 civilians were killed during the French-led military intervention to retake northern towns and villages controlled by Tuareg separatists. Kidal is now the last stronghold of the MNLA separatists.
Elections and insecurities
The MNLA had taken Kidal and other cities in March 2012 but were soon forced to hand over control to Islamist rebels who conquered the entire north of the country. After French troops, along with Chadian soldiers, had driven the Islamists out of Kidal in early February, the MNLA regained their influence there.
Malian army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Diaran Kone, told Deutsche Welle that the redeployment of troops in Kidal aims to make Mali more secure.
The West African country is preparing to hold presidential elections this summer. France hopes that the elections will stabilize the transitional government of President Dioncounda Traore, and bring to an end the crisis which was initiated by Colonel Amadou Sanogo who staged a coup in March 2012.
However, Ulrich Delius does not believe that the Malians will elect a president this summer.
"There are currently over 400,000 refugees who either live in neighboring countries or within Mali as internally displaced persons. These people have to participate in these elections, otherwise they will not be credible or fully representative. Right now we can't see this happening," Delius said.
Delius is calling for the Malian government to enter into dialogue with the conflict parties. And Europe should make its aid dependent on the Malian government demonstrating respect for human rights and genuinely seeking a political solution to the Tuareg problem.
Dire humanitarian situation
For Annette Lohmann, head of the German Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Mali's capital Bamako, reconstruction for Mali has two important focal points.
"The humanitarian situation in the north is still precarious. Many people are affected by food insecurity. This needs to be addressed," Lohmann said in an interview with DW.
"Moreover, measures must be taken to ensure that state structures,such as administration, are re-established as soon as possible. It is very important that security should be established through the presence of state representatives."
Islamist rebels continue to terrorize the population. Since being liberated by the French, the city of Gao has come under attack three times. The region around Kidal is threatened not only by clashes between Malian soldiers and Tuareg rebels. Only last Saturday (11.05.2013) a suspected Islamist fired on a crowd of people waiting for relief supplies in a village near Kidal, killing three civilians.