The 49 Ivorian soldiers detained for more than a month in Bamako and accused by the military in power in Mali of being “mercenaries”, which Abidjan denies, have been charged with “attempting to undermine the security of the state” and imprisoned, AFP learned on Sunday from several judicial sources. “The 49 Ivorian soldiers were charged on Friday for ”attempting to undermine state security” and placed under arrest warrant,” a Malian judicial source familiar with the matter told AFP. A close associate of the prosecutor confirmed the information to AFP. Abidjan assures that these soldiers were on a mission for the UN, as part of logistical support operations for the United Nations Mission in Mali (Minusma) and demands their release. “The 49 soldiers are effectively charged and placed under arrest warrant for ”undermining state security” and other reasons”, declared for his part to AFP an official of the ministry of justice. Negotiation seemed for the moment the preferred way to obtain the release of these 49 soldiers arrested on July 10 on their arrival at Bamako airport. Togo plays the role of mediator between Côte d’Ivoire and Mali, but initial negotiations on July 28 in Lomé, failed to register any progress. According to a source close to the discussions initiated under the aegis of Togo, “the discussions, however advanced, stumbled on certain points, which may explain this judicial return in force to the case”. “Justice will continue its work, but the negotiations will also continue,” he added. This case illustrates the tensions between Mali and Côte d’Ivoire, accused by Bamako of having incited its West African partners to toughen the sanctions against the Malian soldiers who have carried out two coups since 2020, sanctions finally lifted at the beginning of July.
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