International donors pledged a much more than expected $4.1 billion in aid Wednesday to help Mali recover after Islamist rebels nearly overran the troubled county, French President Francois Hollande said.
In the meeting, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said everyone "had to look at the causes of the crisis" that saw the country lose its north to Islamist rebels and France intervene militarily.
"The war is being won. Now we have to secure the peace," Fabius said, stressing the need for unity in a new Mali for all Malians, north and south.
He said the crisis largely reflected economic and political failures in Mali, which must be remedied.
Aid granted would be tied to an open and transparent Mali, with political reconciliation and democracy key elements in restoring stability to the country and to the wider Sahel region. "That is why the elections must take place on the date indicated" of July 28, Fabius said.
Malian Foreign Minister Tieman Hubert Coulibaly said the crisis "has taught us a lot" and showed that "we need to live and work together" in Mali. Other delegates made similar points, highlighting the importance of the July polls in restoring democratic rule.
Malian President Dioncounda Traore pledged Tuesday that the poll would go ahead but the election commission has warned that that might be too soon. Romano Prodi, former Italian prime minister and now UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special rnvoy for the Sahel, said, "much progress has been made" but the focus has to be on implementation of the aid program and the polls.