US cuts some aid to Mali after coup
By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 27, 2012
STUTTGART, Germany — The Obama administration has cut off some security and other assistance to Mali in connection with last week’s coup, and will only resume that aid once democratic rule is restored in the country, U.S. officials said Monday.
“We will continue, through USAID, to provide humanitarian and food assistance to those displaced by the conflict in the north and those affected by the region’s food crisis, but the rest of our government-to-government assistance will be suspended,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
Roughly half of the $140 million the U.S. gives in aid, some of which is dedicated to security efforts, is being frozen as a result of what U.S. officials are calling a “mutiny” within the armed forces.
Last week, soldiers in Mali, led by a U.S.-trained army captain, seized control of the presidential palace and announced they were taking control of the country. The troops have cited a range of grievances, including lack of pay, as a reason for the coup.
“Those grievances need to be addressed, but they need to be addressed so that the military can go back to doing the job that it has to do to secure the country,” including dealing with a rebellion in the north “and other threats to security in Mali,” Nuland said.
Among the other threats to security in Mali is the presence of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates in ungoverned spaces across Western and Northern Africa.
Mali is part of the U.S.’s Trans- Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, a State Department-led initiative aimed at dealing with terrorist groups in the region. In connection with that, U.S. Africa Command has conducted a range of training activities and exercises intended to bolster the effectiveness of Mali’s armed forces.
On Tuesday, leaders from the Economic Community of West African States were scheduled to meet as part of an effort to pressure military leaders to step aside in Mali and restore civilian leadership.
“They’ve invited the mutineers to send a representative, and they will impress upon them the view of the international community that they’ve got to get back to civilian government. They’ve got to get back to democracy here,” Nuland said.