While the authorities had hitherto publicly insisted on a “judicial” treatment of the case by the Malian courts, the head of the junta, Colonel Assimi Goïta, spoke on Friday, September 9, of the necessary “counterpart”, confirming information that the extradition of Malian personalities was part of the discussion on the fate of Ivorian soldiers.
Case of the Ivorian soldiers: what Assimi Goïta wants to obtain from Alassane Ouattara
At “a time when Côte d’Ivoire is asking for the release of its soldiers, [elle] continues to serve as a political asylum for certain Malian personalities subject to arrest warrants international issued by justice, “said Assimi Goïta during a meeting with the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, on Friday September 9, according to a press release published on social networks.
“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 in acceding to the Ivorian demand without compensation for Mali”, he declared. These include 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 Keïta.
Ivorian soldiers arrested in Mali: how far will Assimi Goïta go?
Relations between Mali and its Ivorian neighbor have deteriorated since the junta took over the country in August 2020. They deteriorated further with the arrest of 49 Ivorian soldiers on their arrival in Bamako on July 10. Three female soldiers have recently been released. The 49 soldiers were to, according to Abidjan and the UN, participate in the security of the German contingent of Blue Helmets in Mali. Bamako presented the Ivorians as mercenaries. The junta is itself accused by a number of Western countries of securing the services of Russian mercenaries.
“Find a definitive solution”
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 in the same words the situation of compatriots targeted by arrest warrants and living in Côte d’Ivoire, who use the latter “as a terrain with a view to attacking or disrupting the transition”, the period supposed to precede and prepare the return of civilians to power in Bamako.
From Lomé to Bamako, in the secret of negotiations for the release of Ivorian soldiers
The case is the subject of Togolese mediation. The Malian presidency writes in its press release that “Nigeria wishes to play its part in the liberation of the rest [des] soldiers”, and “believes that it is time to find a definitive solution to this crisis ».