BRUSSELS, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- The European Union is expressing its ongoing commitment to Mali with an $830 million assistance package, Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said Tuesday.
"Since the political and military crisis of 2012, we have seen the Malian government's determination to overcome instability in order to concentrate on the country's development," he said in a statement. "The restoration of security is a vital condition for sustainable development in the region"
The support package targets political reforms, food security, education and the construction of a road linking Gao, a city in central Mali, to the Algerian border.
The Malian government in January asked for military support from former colonial power France to help fight al-Qaida and nomadic fighters that took control over northern parts of the African country in the wake of a 2012 coup.
A plane carrying the bodies of Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, two reporters with Radio France International, arrived Tuesday morning at Charles de Gaulle airport. They were found dead after being abducted last weekend in northern Mali. RFI reported Tuesday they were abducted after interviewing a member of the Tuareg rebel group.
Mali held its first post-coup presidential elections in August. Legislative elections are scheduled later this month.