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M.D. Traore: Address to World Summit 2013


First Lady of Mali, Mme Mintou Doucoure TraoreI extend my greetings to all those who helped me attend this international forum of interactive reflection on a topical theme that concerns all of us around the world, I mean peace, security, and development.

I am particularly interested by this topic because I am a Malian, because I am an African, and ultimately because I am a citizen of this globalized world, I would say this global village.

My task at this podium will not be to delve into the science of peace, security, and development. I will leave that work to the specialists. My comments will revolve around the consequences of the absence of peace, of security, and of development. You can agree with me that the absence of development feeds conflict. On the other hand, economic and social progress can help secure the peace.

I would like to bring a special focus on the case of my own country of Mali, which has been subjected for over a year to the occupation of terrorists and drug traffickers.

The Sahel is a zone south of the Sahara Desert that stretches across the continent of Africa for thousands of kilometers. It is now becoming a kind of “no-man’s land” where all kinds of illicit activities are being carried out: drug trafficking, proliferation of arms, kidnappings of foreigners, and so on.

Since March 2012, our nation of Mali had been cut in two. Two thirds of our national territory, made up of the regions around Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu and part of the area around Mopti, were occupied by irredentists, terrorists (Jihadists and other Salafists) claiming to uphold Islam in its most fanatic and reactionary form, as well as narcotics dealers and other authors of cross-border organized crime.

This tragic situation has forced thousands of people from their homes – most especially women and children who are now living in precarious conditions: lack of drinking water, inadequate social or sanitary facilities, and not enough food and clothing. Disease and insecurity are threatening these refugees.

Those who stayed have suffered all kinds of abuses: Women and girls were raped, people accused of theft had their hands or feet amputated, couples were stoned to death, people were murdered for financial reasons, soldiers were massacred, and even tombs were desecrated.

I want you to know that these forms of obscurantism have nothing to do with Islam, a religion of peace and tolerance. Those who claim to preach Islam are nothing but faithless and lawless extremists!

Mali today is facing demands for peace, security, and development that must be met with appropriate measures. I take this opportunity to salute the decisive mobilization and intervention of France, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the international community, and all the friends of Mali for stopping the advance of the “Jihadists” toward the south of our country.

The Malian situation is a concern to all of us -- communities as well as individuals. It calls us to reflect, because deep down, we are all the same. We are all human beings.

We may wear different clothes and have different skin color, speak different languages, but fundamentally we are all the same human beings. That is what connects us to each other; it allows us to understand each other, become friends, and feel close to each other. Because we all live together on this little planet Earth, we must live in peace and harmony with each other and with nature itself. And consequently, we must help each other when we are in trouble and share the benefits.

It is in the name of our common human family, in the name of humanity, that I appeal for your help for my country, OUR country, Mali, to come out of this dangerous impasse. Your aid is needed, on the humanitarian level, as well as on the political and diplomatic and military levels, to enable Mali to recover its occupied lands and relieve the suffering of the people of the regions of Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal. We need your help to consolidate the peace and security which we have recovered and steer the process of development.

Without peace and security, there is no development. And development must include everybody: It must include women, who can play a crucial role in negotiations and the peace process, and the young people, who have a vast potential to contribute to the development of their society.

For more information about World Summit 2013, click here.