BRUSSELS, June 18 (UPI) -- Holding elections on time in Mali is the "only way" to restore legitimacy to the central government in Bamako, a member of the European Parliament said.
Acting Malian President Dioncounda Traore told European lawmakers in early June he was committed to holding national elections July 28. His commitment followed pledges of around $4 billion in assistance made during a May donors conference hosted by European governments last month.
France intervened in Mali in January when Traore's administration called for military support to fight foreign and al-Qaida fighters who seized territory following a 2012 coup.
Belgian lawmaker Louis Michel, co-president of the joint Africa, Caribbean and Pacific – European Assembly in Parliament, said elections were vital to securing Mali's future.
"Holding presidential elections in Mali on 28 July is the only way to restore legitimacy there," he said in parliamentary statements published Tuesday.
Michel said presidential elections should be separate from the legislative contest to ensure Mali's basic civic structures can function effectively.
Anti-government forces in Mali are accused of war crimes. The United Nations said armed groups operating in northern Mali are suspected of recruiting children.