the transitional president pardoned 49 Ivorian soldiers captured in July

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The head of Mali’s junta, Colonel Assimi Goïta, this Friday 6 January granted presidential pardons to 49 Ivorian soldiers arrested in July and later condemned by Malian courts, according to a decree. The result of a crisis that poisoned regional relations. Robert Dussey, foreign minister for Togo, the mediating nation in this crisis, reacted to the RFI shortly after the announcement.

The announcement fell on the evening of this Friday, via communique n°43 of the Malian transition, which was read out on national television airwaves. In a decree, Colonel Assimi Goïta granted pardons with full pardons to the 49 Ivorian soldiers who had was sentenced last week to a very heavy sentence.

In this statement, the government said ” attachment […] for the preservation of fraternal and secular relations with regional countries in particular with the Ivory Coast. As the text goes on to say, momentum was created last December 22 with the visit of a large delegation from Ivory Coast to Bamako and the signing of the memorandum. The government of Mali congratulates Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbé on his involvement in mediation. The latter went to Bamako on Wednesday to one on one with Assimi Goïta.

Of the 49 people convicted last week, three were released in October. Therefore, there are 46 people who should hear the news tonight with great relief in their prison in Bamako. We do not yet know the exact terms of their release, which should result from this presidential pardon.

Diplomatic negotiations

However, we do know some details about what preceded this announcement. When Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbé arrived in Bamako on Wednesday for a one-on-one meeting with Colonel Assimi Goïta, he was close to securing a presidential pardon for 49 Ivory Coast soldiers, reports our regional correspondent, Serge Daniel. But a grain of sand kicks in: Bamako asks for final reassurance. Faure Gnassingbé boards his plane, stops in Abidjan, meets Ivory Coast President Alassane Dramane Ouattara. The latter provides the ultimate guarantee. The case is almost in the pocket.

Two other personalities intervene in the outcome of the case. Mahamat Saleh Annadif first. The current foreign minister of Chad, but also a former representative of the UN mission in Mali, stepped in to smooth things over. Then Komé Cessé, a Malian businessman based in Ivory Coast. He was a member of the last Ivorian delegation to visit Mali. Entries are in Bamako and Abidjan. It was he who this Friday morning received the good news from Bamako and pointed out the plans for ending the crisis: the Council of Ministers in the Malian capital and the announcement of a presidential pardon.

So pardoned, but not yet released, even though it may only be a matter of hours. This Friday evening, Abidjan has yet to provide an official statement. Since the beginning of this crisis, the Ivory Coast authorities have been very careful in this matter. But behind the scenes, tonight, it’s a relief. Members of the government are texting each other, they are calling each other, a government source told our correspondent Bineta Diagne. Relief was also expressed on social networks by many internet users. All remain suspended following the effective return of 46 soldiers. No date has been set yet.

Six Month Crisis Film

On 10 July 2022, Malian authorities arrested 49 Ivorian soldiers on the tarmac of Bamako airport. Tensions rose when the junta explicitly accused the Ivorian soldiers of being armed mercenaries, aiming to undermine or even overthrow the transitional government.

Abidjan categorically denied and assured that the soldiers were on a UN mission, as part of a logistical support operation for Minusma. But the case turned into a diplomatic crisis when the soldiers were formally charged, then jailed in mid-August.

The release of the three women from the military unit in early September suggested a way out of the crisis for a time, but negotiations, screened by nothing, derailed. Senior figures from the state of Ivory Coast such as the chief of staff for the presidency, Fidèle Sarassoro – were dispatched to Bamoko. Case invited himself to the tribune of the UN General Assembly in New York, on the sidelines of which the secretary general of the institution requested “ release soon “soldiers. ECOWAS finally issued an ultimatum to the Malian authorities, brandishing threats of sanctions.

After a six month absence, the soldiers can return to Ivory Coast today, at the end of the day.

This presidential pardon “is the start of a process of reconciliation”

The main mediators in this crisis are Togo and Secretary of State Robert Dussey. He announced the impending release of 46 Ivory Coast soldiers.

It goes without saying that in the coming hours, 46 soldiers will be reunited with their families on the soil of Ivory Coast.

Robert Dussey: “It’s a relief for all West Africans”

At Lomé, we remain humble to record our correspondence on the website Peter Sassou Dogbeapart from the diplomatic involvement of Togo and the Head of State, Faure Gnassingbé who completed the marathon, Lomé-Bamako, Bamako-Abidjan.

During this express trip to the two capital cities, he stressed the need to move forward on this issue, which has been a pebble in the shoe of the entire sub-region. Lomé should rejoice at the outcome of his mediation.

We recall that on September 3, three military women who were freed for humanitarian reasons passed through Lomé before returning to Ivory Coast.

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