the junta wants “a counterpart”

The Malian authorities have so far publicly insisted on treatment “judicial” of the case of Ivorian soldiers detained in Mali. But the leader of the junta, Colonel Assimi Goïta, now evokes a necessary “compensation”confirming reports that the extradition of Malian personalities was part of the discussion on the fate of Ivorian soldiers.

(Re)read: Côte d’Ivoire: negotiations for the release of soldiers imprisoned in Mali “continue”

At “when Côte d’Ivoire requests the release of its soldiers, it continues to serve as a political asylum for certain Malian personalities who are the subject of international arrest warrants issued by the courts”Colonel Goïta said during a meeting with Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama on Friday. “These same personalities benefit from the protection of Côte d’Ivoire to destabilize Mali. Hence the need for a lasting solution as opposed to a one-way solution which would consist of acceding to the Ivorian request without compensation for Mali”he said.

Among the personalities targeted by the junta, there are in particular Karim Keïta, the son of former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta overthrown by the colonels in 2020, and Tiéman Hubert Coulibaly, Minister of Defense and Foreign Affairs under Mr. Keïta.

(Re)read: the political career of Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta

A difficult neighborhood

Mali, confronted since 2012 with jihadist attacks, is plunged into a deep security and political crisis – which goes beyond borders. Relations between Mali and its Ivorian neighbor have deteriorated since colonels took over the country by force in August 2020.

They deteriorated further with the arrest of 49 Ivorian soldiers on their arrival in Bamako on July 10, 2022. The 49 soldiers were, according to Abidjan and the UN, to participate in the security of the German contingent of Blue Helmets in Mali. But Bamako presented the Ivorians as mercenaries. The junta is itself accused by a number of Western countries of securing the services of Russian mercenaries. Three female soldiers were recently released, but 46 other soldiers remain in detention.

(See again : Mali: three Ivorian soldiers freed

The new acting Malian Prime Minister, Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga, assured Friday evening on state television that the file was “eminently judicial”. But he also mentioned the situation of compatriots targeted by arrest warrants and living in Côte d’Ivoire, who use the latter “as ground for attacking or disrupting the transition”the period supposed to precede and prepare for the return of civilians to power in Bamako.

The case is the subject of Togolese mediation. The Malian presidency writes in its press release that “Nigeria wants to play its part in the release of the rest of the soldiers”and “believes that it is time to find a definitive solution to this crisis”.

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