TIMBUKTU, Mali, April 22 (UPI) -- Authorities in Timbuktu and other parts of northern Mali are operating in a state of chaos because of the lack of formal authority, a civil servant said.
The Malian government in January called for military support from former colonial power France to help fight al-Qaida and foreign rebel groups tied to nomadic Tuaregs. Control over northern Mali was lost to militants following a 2012 coup.
Al-Qaida last year razed historic religious sites in Timbuktu because they weren't in line with the group's views on Islam. Since French liberation, local authorities said there isn't much of a formal administration in northern Mali.
Retired civil servant Oumar Toure told the United Nations' humanitarian news agency IRIN from Timbuktu the situation was chaotic.
"If the government is serious about organizing elections for July, the administration has to return as soon as possible," he said.
U.N. special envoy for the Sahel Romano Prodi told the European Union's Foreign Affairs committee that an expectation that Mali could have elections by July was ambitious given the security situation and the number of internally displaced people.
Toure added that it was "inconceivable" that members of the displaced community can expect to return to their homes given that local governments are operating in a state of "complete anarchy."