Mali: 49 Ivorian soldiers accused of being “mercenaries” charged and imprisoned

The 49 Ivorian soldiers detained for more than a month in Bamako and accused by the military in power in Mali of being “mercenaries” were charged with “attempting to undermine state security” and imprisoned. Côte d’Ivoire ensures that these soldiers were on a mission for the UN, as part of logistical support operations for the United Nations Mission in Mali (Minusma) and demands their release.

Negotiation seemed for the moment the preferred way to obtain the release of these 49 soldiers arrested on July 10 on their arrival at Bamako airport. Togo plays the role of mediator between Côte d’Ivoire and Mali, but initial negotiations on July 28 in Lomé did not allow any progress to be made.

Negotiations stalled

Mali demanded that Côte d’Ivoire recognize its responsibility and express “regrets” for the deployment of soldiers on its territory without a legal framework, according to diplomatic sources close to the negotiations. Bamako is also asking Abidjan to deliver Malian personalities present in Côte d’Ivoire and wanted by the Malian courts, according to AFP sources. These conditions were rejected by the Ivorian government, which claimed that the release process “may be long”.

This case illustrates the tensions between Mali and Côte d’Ivoire, accused by Bamako of having encouraged its West African partners to toughen the sanctions against the Malian soldiers who have carried out two coups since 2020, sanctions finally lifted in early July. .

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