Mali Releases Three Ivorian Soldiers; 46 Still Detained

Mali released three out of 49 detained Ivorian soldiers on Sat., who were contracted for a U.N. peacekeeping mission, which Malian authorities had arrested over eight weeks ago.

Mali Releases Three Ivorian Soldiers; 46 Still Detained
Image credit: Florent Vergnes/ AFP via Al Jazeera

Facts

  • Mali released three out of 49 detained Ivorian soldiers on Sat., who were contracted for a U.N. peacekeeping mission, which Malian authorities had arrested over eight weeks ago.
  • The three soldiers — all of them women — were released in a “humanitarian gesture” by Mali’s leader Colonel Assimi Goïta, said Togo’s Foreign Affairs Minister Robert Dusse, who is helping to mediate between Mali and Ivory Coast.
  • The Ivorian soldiers, who the Malian government labeled “mercenaries” claiming they flew into the country without permission, were arrested on July 10. Ivory Coast protested the arrests, stating that the soldiers were on a mission to support U.N. forces in Mali.
  • At a press conference in Togo held jointly with Mali’s Foreign Minister, Ivory Coast’s cabinet director pledged to follow U.N. procedures and new Malian rules related to the deployment of forces in the country.
  • This diplomatic spat between the two former French colonies, comes as France completed the withdrawal of its troops from Mali last month.
  • Also on Sat., Mali and Burkina Faso’s military leaders met to discuss bilateral security amid the destabalizing regional Islamist insurgency which began in Mali a decade ago. Burkinabé leader Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who himself came to power via a coup in Jan., proceeded to visit Ivory Coast on Mon.

Sources: Al Jazeera, abc, Reuters, and MSN.

Narratives

  • Pro-Establishment narrative, as provided by UN News.The Ivorian soldiers were not “mercenaries” allegedly trying to undermine Mali’s “state security,” but were part of the logistical support for the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali. Given the fight against terrorism, the arrest was and is further evidence of the Malian military junta’s irresponsible actions. Meanwhile, the human rights situation in the country continues to deteriorate, while jihadist attacks are once again on the rise.
  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Al Mayadeen. Mali is showing goodwill toward peace in the region especially since the detained soldiers were sent by France’s neo-colonial ally, Ivory Coast, to overthrow Mali’s anti-imperialist government. To achieve this goal, Paris also supports terrorists operating in Mali. The best example of France’s neo-colonial agenda in West Africa is the Ivory Coast itself, whose current government of Alassane Ouattara was effectively installed by the French in 2010.