The Malian transitional government considers “mercenaries” forty-nine Ivorian soldiers arrested on Sunday at Bamako airport. He decided, on Monday 11 July, to “make available to the competent judicial authorities”.

“It was found that the forty-nine Ivorian soldiers were illegally in the national territory of Mali (…) in possession of military weapons and ammunition, without mission order or authorization “government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga said in a statement read Monday night on national television. “The fatal intention of those arrested was clearly to break the dynamics of the re-founding and securing of Mali, as well as the return to constitutional order”Mr. Maiga said.

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Mali, a landlocked country in the heart of the Sahel, was the scene of two military coups in August 2020 and May 2021. It recently adopted a transition calendar that should allow civilians to return to power in March 2024 The political crisis goes hand in hand with a serious security crisis since the 2012 breakout of separatist and jihadist uprisings in the North.

“Elements of national support”

The spokesman for the UN mission in Mali (Minusma), Olivier Salgado, had previously hinted that the arrested soldiers were part of“Elements of national support” (NSE) logistics at Minusma. The NSEs, Salgado specified on his Twitter account, are “National personnel deployed by countries contributing troops, in support of their contingents (…), a practice commonly applied in peacekeeping missions “. “According to our information, their relief on 10 July would have been communicated in advance to the national authorities”he also said.

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The Malian authorities for their part note that their Ministry of Foreign Affairs had not been informed through official channels. Bamako also noted a “flagrant violation” of the Malian Criminal Code, “Incriminating attacks on the external security of the state, including attacks on the integrity of the territory”.

Some of the detained Ivorian soldiers arrived in Mali on the basis of an agreement to work at the logistics base of the Sahelian Aviation Services company on behalf of Minusma, an Ivorian diplomat told Agence France-Presse under cover of anonymity.

For his part, Bamako states that four different versions were put forward by the arrested soldiers to justify their presence in Malian territory: “The confidential mission, the rotation within the Minusma, the securing of the logistics base of the airline Sahelian Aviation Services and the protection of the German contingent. ” The Malian government has thus decided “Put an end, with immediate effect, to the protection activities of the company Sahelian Aviation Services by foreign forces and ask for its immediate departure from Malian territory”.

viral spread

Information from “arrest” of Ivorian soldiers began airing on social networks Sunday before going viral, with some accusing these soldiers of being “mercenaries” came to Mali a “make a coup”. The Ivorian authorities had not yet officially reacted on Monday evening.

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In January, the ruling junta in Bamako asked Denmark to withdraw the newly arrived troops, but deployed the troops “without your consent”. Copenhagen had denounced “Dirty political game”. He distanced himself from France and his partners and turned to Russia to try to stem the spread of jihadism that has spread to the center of the country, as well as to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger. The resulting violence has resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians and soldiers and hundreds of thousands of displaced people. With around 13,000 troops, the Minusma – created in 2013 to support the Malian political process – was extended for a year on 29 June.

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The world with AFP

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