The terrorist groups which have attacked Mali will be defeated, the Malian foreign affairs minister, Tieman Hubert Coulibaly, declared in Brussels on Thursday.
Speaking in a press conference at the end of his meeting with European foreign affairs ministers, who met in an extraordinary session on Malian crisis, he said: “The project of the terrorists is not political, but criminal because their goal is to seize the Malian state to make it a base for drug traffickers who are very powerful.”
Jihadists launched a surprise attack as negotiations opened in the Burkina Faso capital, Ouagadougou, on a peace deal between the government and various rebel groups in northern Mali.
“The Touareg issue is not raised because Touaregs involved in the rebellion are a small number,” the Malian minister said.
“The timetable outlined by the Malian government is first to liberate the north of the country, then to hold free and fair elections that should establish the new regime in Mali,” he said.
“The Malian army has many weaknesses,” Mr Coulibaly said, adding he was pleased with the decision made European ministers to launch as quickly as possible the mission for military assistance to Mali.
The extraordinary council of ministers of foreign affairs of the European Union (EU) appointed French General François Lecointre as commander of the European Military Command in Mali (EUTM).
The European ministers urged the General to accelerate the planning and preparations which would help launch EUTM at the latest in mid-February and send a first technical team to Bamako in the next few days.
The European Union supports the “quick” deployment of the International Support Mission to Mali (MISMA), under African control, in conformity with Resolution 2085 of the UN Security Council, a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting revealed.
It said the EU was committing itself to providing as quickly as possible financial assistance to MISMA, through the African Peace Facility Fund.
The ministerial council also expressed the EU’s readiness to take part in the donors’ conference on Mali, as requested by US Security Council Resolution.
France and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are also contributing troops to flush out Islamists who seized northern Mali last year.