Home WORLD AFRICA Côte d’Ivoire asks Mali for the “immediate” release of its 49 soldiers

Côte d’Ivoire asks Mali for the “immediate” release of its 49 soldiers

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No Ivorian soldier of this contingent was in possession of weapons and munitions of warindicates a press release from the Ivorian presidency published at the end of an extraordinary National Security Council (CNS).

Côte d’Ivoire, which has always worked within sub-regional, regional and international bodies for peace, stability and respect for the rule of law, cannot be part of a logic of destabilization of a third countryadds the text.

On Monday, the Malian government described these Ivorian soldiers as mercenaries.

According to him, they were illegally in the national territory of Mali […] in possession of weapons and ammunition of war, without mission order or authorization.

The fatal intention of those arrested was clearly to break the dynamics of the refoundation and security of Mali, as well as the return to constitutional order.said government spokesman Abdoulaye Maïga.

But according to Abidjan, the presence of its soldiers, within the framework of logistical support operations for the United Nations mission in Mali (MINUSMA), is well known to the Malian authorities.

A soldier from the back with a UN blue helmet.

The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has been deployed since 2013.

Photo: Getty Images/Alexander Koerner

Ivorian soldiers have been present at Bamako airport since July 2019 and the signing of a convention with the UN, said the CNS tuesday.

Since that date, seven contingents have periodically taken turns on this site, without any difficulty.add the Ivorian authorities who claim to have transmitted a copy of the mission order in Bamako.

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They also say they want to continue to work for the maintenance of the climate of peace and brotherhood which has always prevailed between Côte d’Ivoire and Mali.

The explanations of the UN

On Tuesday, UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq explained that the soldiers arrested were not doing Minusma“,”text”:”formally part of Minusma”}}”>formally part of the MINUSMAbut that they were National Support Elements (NSE)i.e. troops deployed by troop-contributing countries in support of their contingents.

This is common practice in peacekeeping missionshe added.

Some of the Ivorian soldiers selected came to Mali on the basis of an agreement to work at the logistics base of the company Sahelian Aviation Services (SAS).

The Malian government claims that these soldiers have put forward four different versions to justify their presence on Malian territory: Minusmasecuring the SAS logistics base and protecting the German contingent”,”text”:”the confidential mission, rotation within the framework of Minusma, securing the SAS logistics base and protecting the German contingent” }}”>the confidential mission, the rotation within the framework of the MINUSMAsecuring the SAS logistics base and protecting the German contingent.

Colonel Assimi Goita rules Mali following a military coup in August 2020.

Colonel Assimi Goita rules Mali following a military coup in August 2020.

Photo: afp via getty images / MALIK KONATE

Colonel Assimi Goita, head of the Malian military junta, said in a tweet on Tuesday that he had a telephone conversation with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

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We talked about the support of ONU to the transition process in Mali and I reiterated the need for the partners to respect the sovereignty of Mali, he wrote. The interview was confirmed by the UN.

Security crisis

Information of the arrest of Ivorian soldiers began to be broadcast on social networks on Sunday before going viral, with some accusing these soldiers of having come to commit a putsch.

Mali, a landlocked country in the heart of the Sahel, has been the scene of two military coups, in August 2020 and May 2021. It recently adopted a transition timetable that should allow civilians to return to power in March 2024.

Following the adoption of this timetable, the member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), of which Côte d’Ivoire is a member, lifted the economic and financial sanctions which Mali since January.

The political crisis goes hand in hand with a serious ongoing security crisis since the outbreak, in 2012, of separatist insurgencies and bloody jihadist actions in the North.

The ruling junta in Bamako has turned away from France and its partners and turned to Russia to try to stem the spread of jihadism that has spread to the center of the country as well as neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.

With its approximately 13,000 soldiers, the MINUSMA – created in 2013 to support the Malian political process – was extended for a year on 29 June.

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