could convicted Ivorian soldiers benefit from a presidential pardon?

could convicted Ivorian soldiers benefit from a presidential pardon?

The trial lasted two days. Following hearings before the Bamako Assize Court, the 46 Ivorian soldiers were found guilty of “attack and conspiracy against the government“, “undermining the external security of the state“, “possession, carrying and transport of weapons and ammunition of war (…) with the aim of disturbing public order by intimidation or terror“.

The judgment aroused a lot of emotion and deep amazement in Abdijan. “It is an unjust condemnation. Malians do not tell the truth. They lied to the people saying they are mercenaries”, exclaims a resident of the Ivorian capital at the microphone of TV5MONDE.

Soldiers “soon” back in Abidjan, says Alassane Ouattara

If the Ivorian presidency has indicated that it does not wish to speak following the judgment, the leader Alassane Ouattara has indicated that the soldiers will be “soon” back in Abidjan. In his greetings for the new year 2023, the Ivorian president indicated that his “thoughts go particularly to our soldiers detained in Mali since July 10“.

The 46 soldiers will soon return to Ivorian soil.
Alassane Outarra, President of the Ivory Coast

Thanks to the diplomatic actions undertaken with the support of leaders of several friendly countries, in particular the President of the Togolese Republic“Faure Gnassingbe, “Three female soldiers were released last September“, explained the Ivorian president. According to him, “the other 46 soldiers will soon return to Ivorian soil“.

“The credibility of Malian power depends on it”

These statements echo a possible presidential pardon decided by the Malian state. According to certain sources close to the Ivorian authorities, Bamako could decide to release the soldiers in the coming days. “The credibility of the Malian government in the face of criticism depends on it.”, analyzes a source with TV5MONDE, adding that “both parties have acknowledged that there are misunderstandings”.

A memorandum was signed between Côte d’Ivoire and Mali on December 22. The agreement was reached following a visit to Bamako by an official Ivorian delegation which took place in a “fraternal” spirit. The Ivorian Defense Minister, Téné Birahima Ouattara, brother of the Head of State, underlined that the case was “in the process of being resolved“.

Things might work out. What is unfortunate is to have used so many judicial forces to claim a result and that things settle down.Mamadou Ismaïla Konaté, lawyer and former Minister of Justice of Mali

The agreement reached between Mali and Côte d’Ivoire leaves open the possibility of a presidential pardon for the head of the Malian military junta, Assimi Goïta. The latter who did not mention the Ivorian soldiers in his end-of-year speech broadcast on Saturday December 31.

According to Mamadou Ismaïla Konaté, lawyer and former Minister of Justice of Mali, “things might work out. What is unfortunate is to have used so many judicial forces to claim a result and that things settle down”.

A risk of ECOWAS sanctions hangs over Bamako

In early December in Abuja, West African leaders met for a summit without Mali. They had demanded that the 46 Ivorian soldiers be released by January 1. After this period, ECOWAS has indicated that it is ready to take new sanctions against Bamako.

The institution had already organized an extraordinary summit last September. On this occasion, she sent a high-level delegation to Mali to try to resolve the crisis. But no progress was reported after this mission. West African leaders also looked at the situation in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea, three countries in which the military has taken power by force since 2020.

ECOWAS, worried about instability and a risk of contagion, has been pushing for months for a return as quickly as possible of the civilians at the head of these countries. In addition, Mali and Burkina are seriously shaken by the spread of jihadism. The two Sahelian neighbors have been the scene of two putschs in the space of less than a year. The three countries are suspended from the decision-making bodies of ECOWAS.