#REUTERS. | Three former Malian ministers, targeted by an arrest warrant, ready to appear in court

Minusma, the UN force in Mali, recognized “dysfunctions” concerning the mission of these Ivorian soldiers.

The process to obtain the release of 49 Ivorian soldiers detained in Bamako for three weeks “may be long”, admitted Wednesday in Abidjan the spokesman of the Ivorian government.

“Côte d’Ivoire favored dialogue” to obtain their release and “discussions are in progress”, recalled the spokesperson, Amadou Coulibaly, at the end of the Council of Ministers.

“Everything is being done for our soldiers to rejoin their families,” he said, adding: “It may take a long time, but we have to trust the state and a happy ending will be obtained.”

Côte d’Ivoire judges that its 49 soldiers were “unfairly” arrested on July 10 at Bamako airport, accused by the Malian military in power of being “mercenaries” seeking to destabilize their country.

According to Abidjan, the presence of its soldiers, within the framework of logistical support operations for the United Nations Mission in Mali (Minusma), was “well known to the Malian authorities”.

The Minusma, however, recognized “dysfunctions” concerning the mission of these Ivorian soldiers.

The Ivorian Defense Minister, Téné Birahima Ouattara, received on Wednesday the families of the prisoner soldiers, telling them that they had been sent to Mali “as part of a regulatory mission” and had “not made a mistake”.

According to him, Mali and Côte d’Ivoire “have terrorism as a common enemy” and “the same fight”, “stand up to it”.

“We are counting on you (the government) for the release of our children, I’m sure they are more worried than us,” said Alfred Kouassi, spokesperson for the families.

Fatou Diallo, mother of a soldier, said she had “faith in the return of our children, the government reassured us”.

Togo plays the role of mediator between Côte d’Ivoire and Mali, but initial negotiations on July 28 in Lomé did not allow any progress to be made.

Mali demands in particular that Côte d’Ivoire recognize its responsibility and express “regrets” for the deployment of soldiers on its territory without a legal framework, without notification or prior consultation with the Malian authorities, according to diplomatic sources close to the negotiations.

Bamako is also asking Abidjan to deliver Malian personalities present in Côte d’Ivoire and wanted by the Malian courts, according to these sources.

So many conditions rejected by the Ivorian government.

These arrests took place in a context of growing friction between the military in power in Bamako and their international partners.

Mali, a landlocked country in the heart of the Sahel, was the scene of two military coups in August 2020 and May 2021.

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.

Source: Reuters-VOA.

About Reuters

REUTERS: is an international news organization owned by Thomson Reuters. Until 2008, the Reuters news agency formed part of an independent company, Reuters Group plc, which was also a provider of financial market data.

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