Is an amicable settlement still possible?

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The Ivorian authorities finally, on Tuesday evening, expressed themselves officially on the case of 49 soldiers from Côte d’Ivoire who were arrested on July 10 upon their arrival at Bamako airport, accused by the Malian authorities of mercenaries. Abidjan presented its exact copy of the United Nations, even if a certain amount of ambiguity remained.

Abidjan says so clearly: The 49 men are soldiers in the Ivorian regular army. arrived in Mali As part of the operations of the National Support Component Under an agreement signed in July 2019, three years ago, between Côte d’Ivoire and the United Nations.

Transcript confirming that the United Nations had already determined, with the voice of several different officials, that these 49 men were not part of the Ivorian contingent of the Blue Helmets – they are not members of the Minusma – but that they were part of this NSE mechanism, under which a contributing country can Troops provide supplementary support to a unit deployed within the mission.

However, we will note the reluctant declaration of the UN spokesperson in New York yesterday, which, if he did not deny the membership of 49 soldiers from Côte d’Ivoire in this NSE, frequent in peacekeeping operations, he was unable to identify any of these precisely. Their role or contractual association with the private company SAS, which is itself a sub-contractor of Minusma.

A senior UN official in New York told RFI, on condition of anonymity, that the Ivorian soldiers were not from the NSE. Contrasting and confusing statements that, given the context, reinforce suspicion. In any case, Abidjan asks Bamako to release ” without a deadline “Cote d’Ivoire soldiers” unjustly arrested “.

Mercenaries for Bamako

A statement that Côte d’Ivoire still wants to believe: to the very strong press statement issued by Bamako, Abidjan responds with a proposal ” Preserving the atmosphere of peace and brotherhood that has always prevailed Between the two countries. So the ball is in the financial authorities’ court. But what Abidjan has just said officially is not actually new to Bamako.

While there are undeniably malfunctions to be identified and questions to be asked, given that the two official versions categorically contradict – on mission orders or official procedures completed before the arrival of the 49 soldiers – it must be remembered that the Ivorian and Malian authorities are in contact Since Sunday. Since Sunday, Abidjan has insisted that the 49 men are regular soldiers who have come to support MINUSMA. And that didn’t stop Bamako from responding, in essence: They are not mercenaries for us And to announce that they will be brought to justice. Bamako has already taken the side of mistrust and even hostility towards its Ivorian neighbour. So choosing pacification means retreating.

use the term ” mercenaries “It is also not insignificant: it is precisely what Bamako rejects on the subject of the Russian auxiliary forces to the Malian army, which are regularly referred to as” mercenaries of the Wagner Group While Bamako still presents them as simple coaches, they come within the framework of cooperation with the Russian state. So there is a clear political message on this issue, and it is not directed only to Abidjan.

We can also remember that Côte d’Ivoire is one of the countries that has always defended within ECOWAS its hard line against the military putschists in Bamako, especially with regard to the issue of sanctions, which was finally lifted on July 3, and relations between the two countries deteriorated significantly. Abidjan also hosts wanted figures for financial justice – Karim Keita, son of the former president of Kuwait International Bank – as well as political opponents in exile. Finally, note the silence of the Economic Community of West African States for the time being. Who undoubtedly has a role to play so that the Ivorian financial crisis does not worsen further.

► Read also: Arrests in Mali: “The military junta is angry with Côte d’Ivoire due to the sanctions of the Economic Community of West African States”

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