By Bakari Guèye
The European Union on Thursday (May 24th) announced that it would give 80 million euros to Mauritania to improve social and political conditions in the country and to promote stability in the Sahel region.
European External Action Service (EEAS) Managing Director for Africa Nicholas Westcott announced the plan during a one-day visit to Nouakchott where he met with President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz and other officials.
“We’re in the process of committing 80 million euros to Mauritania between now and the end of next year as part of the 10th European Development Fund (EDF); we’re currently working on programmes with the Mauritanian government to ensure that those sums are spent,” the EU’s most senior Africa official said.
“In order to assist the implementation of the European Union’s strategy on the Sahel, we’ve tripled the amount available to 25 million euros,” he added.
Westcott expressed great concern over the Malian crisis and stated the EU still preferred a political resolution to the situation in accordance with the Economic Community of African States (ECOWAS). But if it does come to military action, it would require a UN Security Council resolution to legitimise such a move, according to the EU diplomat.
“We’re very worried about the presence of jihadist movements on the ground,” he said.
He also reiterated “the European Union’s commitment to co-operation with Mauritania, and we welcome the active role it is playing in combating insecurity in the Sahel.”
According to Sidi Ould Mohamed, a university lecturer specialising in terrorism, the European plan for development and security in the Sahel is centred on Mauritania, Mali and Niger.
He said that “the European Union strategy has four main thrusts when it comes to security: aid for development, support and encouragement for a regional counter-terrorism approach; assistance in strengthening Mauritania, Niger and Mali’s security capabilities; and support in the fight against radicalisation and extremism.”
“The countries of the European Union hope to increase the ability of the states concerned to maintain security, law and order, to enable them to counter threats and crack down on terrorism and organised crime,” Ould Mohamed added.