Abidjan assures 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.
West African heads of state supported this request at the last summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on December 4 in Abuja, and had set an ultimatum for January 1, 2023 under penalty of new sanctions against Mali.
“Our Ivorian brothers have arrived. The delegation is led by the Minister of State for Defense Téné Birahima Ouattara. We are going to work in a good atmosphere”, told AFP a Malian minister who did not want his name to be mentioned.
An airport source confirmed to AFP the arrival in Bamako of the Ivorian delegation.
The negotiators will have an interview with the head of the Malian junta, Colonel Assimi Goïta, but also a working session with members of the Malian government, according to a collaborator of the presidency.
“As a goodwill gesture from Mali, the Ivorian delegation should visit the detained soldiers”added this source to the presidency.
In September, the Malian government released three soldiers, women. Their release was accompanied by a press conference in Lomé, where the three soldiers were handed over, in the presence of Togolese Foreign Minister Robert Dussey and his Malian counterpart Abdoulaye Diop. Liberation has come”on a humanitarian basis” had specified Bamako, without specifying their health condition.
Togolese Minister of Foreign Affairs Robert Dussey, whose country is mediating in this affair, is also expected the same day in Bamako. “He will reconcile the points of view so that we find a quick solution to the problem”, a diplomat stationed in Bamako told AFP.