which blocks for the 46 soldiers still detained

which blocks for the 46 soldiers still detained

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They are three to have been able to return to the country, they are 46 to be still detained in Mali. Of the 49 Ivorian soldiers arrested last July 10 in Bamako and accused by the Malian transitional authorities of being mercenaries came to destabilize the country, three were released this weekend. For the release of the 46 other remaining Ivorian soldiers, to date, nothing is certain.

As a reminder, Côte d’Ivoire had sent these soldiers to support the UN mission in the country (Minusma), but an administrative imbroglio did not allow the United Nations to prove the framework in which these soldiers were supposed to be deployed.

Three of them – three women – were finally able to return to Abidjan on Saturday evening, an undeniable step forward on this very political issue, obtained thanks to the mediation of Togo, which is actively pursuing its efforts to obtain the release of the 46 other Ivorian soldiers. .

Three out of 49, the progress is indisputable, but if 46 Ivorian soldiers remain detainedit’s good that the discussions continue to block.

Bamako consented to a gesture ” humanitarian », according to the term used by the Togolese mediation, by releasing the only three women in the group of 49, a proof of goodwill, beneficial for the image of the Malian authorities and which proves that a negotiated solution is indeed possible.

However, the Malian transitional authorities have not officially commented on this release. It was the Togolese mediation that announced it. The Ivorian authorities have spoken, but on the Malian side, no declaration, neither from the presidency nor from the government. Only a press release from the prosecutor of the Bamako Court of Appeal formally recorded the procedure for the release of the three soldiers.

The others are still detained and charged. They must, in the current state of things, be judged for, in particular, ” attempted attack on the external security of the State “.

Mali wants an apology

Since the start of negotiations, Bamako has demanded an apology from Abidjan. A form of ” humiliation “, according to some observers, to which Côte d’Ivoire did not consent.

Abidjan’s recognition of ” shortcomings ” and D'” misunderstandings », as well as the commitment to respect the new procedures put in place by Mali and the United Nations, are they enough to tick this box? Bamako would also require a written commitment from Côte d’Ivoire. Is she ready for it? With or without an apology?

From a source close to the negotiations, Mali would also demand the extradition of political figures who have taken refuge in Côte d’Ivoire and are wanted by the Malian courts. Karim Keïta, son of former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, former Prime Minister Boubou Cissé, and former Minister Tiéman Hubert Coulibaly, are cited.

Several sources believe that Bamako could waive this difficult to access requirement, but nothing has been recorded and the personalities in question are, at least for some, no longer in Abidjan at present. Precautionary measure as long as the discussions continue?

The transitional Malian authorities would also request Ivorian support to obtain facilities from the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), in order to refinance themselves.

Even before the release of the three soldiers, Côte d’Ivoire had agreed to send a new contingent to swell the ranks of the Minusma. They are 425, deployed for ten days in Timbuktu, bringing the total strength of the Ivorian army in Mali on behalf of the UN mission to 650, information provided by the Ivorian government.

On Saturday, Togo’s foreign minister said decisions were still ” in progress so that, very quickly, the other soldiers in detention can regain their total freedom “.

A certain optimism

Malian researcher Aly Tounkara is following this case very closely. He directs the Center for Security and Strategic Studies in the Sahel. Joined by RFI, he wants to be rather optimistic about their fate.

The authorities of the transition of Mali had demanded, as soon as the arrest of these Ivorian soldiers, that Côte d’Ivoire recognizes that it did not comply with the rules of engagement of a troop. So, I think that the Ivorian authorities having already made the commitment to comply with the rules of engagement of a contingent for a UN mission, this recognition is, de facto, obtained from the Ivorian authorities. This could bring the two parties to agree on the essentials.

Asked whether we know today what the discussions are about for the total release of the Ivorians detained in Bamako, Aly Tounkara adds that ” it would seem that certain written commitments would be requested by Bamako, which would not be to the liking of the Ivorian authorities at this stage. But at the rate of sustained exchanges between the parties, it is very likely that we will reach a happy ending, even if the antecedent is already consumed between the two countries. »

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