U.S. sees elections as vital for Malian gains

June 6, 2013 at 11:40 AM

WASHINGTON, June 6 (UPI) -- Free and transparent elections in Mali are necessary to ensure peace and stability in the country, the U.S. State Department said.

Acting Malian President Dioncounda Traore said during a May donor conference he was committed to elections next month. He assured his European patrons that no members of the transition government would stand in the elections.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the government was concerned about national security in Mali. Free and transparent elections, however, would go a long way in securing the peace.

"This is a vital part of restoring peace and stability in Mali and in the region and will set the stage for a broader process of national reconciliation in a unified Mali," she said Wednesday in a statement.

Malian human rights activists and policy experts told the U.N. Integrated Regional Information Networks they feared elected politicians might work against policies that would undermine their conventional hold on power, however.

Mali was divided along north-south lines when al-Qaida fighters and nomadic rebels claimed authority over parts of the country after a 2012 coup.

The Malian government called for military support from former colonial power France in January to help ensure territorial integrity.

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