A high-level mission dispatched to Mali by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met on September 29 with the head of the junta, Colonel Assimi Goïta, to try to resolve the diplomatic crisis with the Côte of ivory. Progress appears to have been made towards releasing the 46 soldiers held in Mali since July 10 – there were 49 initially, but three female soldiers were released in early September.
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“Things will work out by the will of God,” said a senior Malian official on condition of anonymity. He cited the efforts of various stakeholders and added: “We are not going to disappoint”. The delegation, which arrived around noon (local time), left at the end of the afternoon without making a statement. “That doesn’t mean it’s a failure. The Malians have been very understanding,” said a source close to the delegation on condition of anonymity.
The junta will not allow itself to be “imposed a solution”
“Attached to its sovereignty, Mali remains open to dialogue,” said the head of the junta on social networks. The mission was made up of Ghanaian and Gambian Presidents Nana Akufo-Addo and Adama Barrow and Togolese Foreign Minister Robert Dussey, who represented President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé. She had been mandated by the leaders of the member states of ECOWAS who met at a summit on September 22 to try to find a solution to the diplomatic quarrel between Bamako and Abidjan over the fate of 46 Ivorian soldiers arrested on July 10 on their arrival in mali. Abidjan and the UN claim that these soldiers were to participate in the security of the German contingent of Minusma. But Bamako says it considers them “mercenaries” who have come to attack state security.
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The Malian junta had warned before receiving the mission that it would not allow a solution to be imposed. “We are going to listen to them (…) But if it is to impose decisions on Mali, it will not pass,” said the minister earlier this week. of the Foreign Affairs Abdoulaye Diop.
The day before the mission, the junta also dissociated itself from the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS on neighboring Guinea. Mali and Guinea, members of ECOWAS, are suspended from its decision-making bodies to sanction the seizure of power by soldiers who overthrew civilian regimes in August 2020 in Mali and in September 2021 in Guinea, and their prolonged stay in power. head of these countries.
In addition to sending a mission to Mali, the ECOWAS summit of September 22, organized on the sidelines of the 77e conferences of the United Nations, decided to suspend all assistance and transactions of the financial institutions of the organization with Guinea, led by Mamadi Doumbouya. The Malian government said it was “outraged” by these measures. Expressing “unwavering solidarity” with the Guineans, he decided in a press release “to dissociate himself from all the illegal, inhuman and illegitimate sanctions taken against [cette] Sister Republic”.
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Mali was itself subjected from January to July by ECOWAS to a severe trade and financial embargo, punishing the military’s plan to stay in power for up to five more years. The junta has since pledged under pressure to hold elections in February 2024, and ECOWAS lifted the embargo. But individual sanctions remain in force against the members of the join.