Côte d’Ivoire fumes as Mali requests extradition of political figures in exchange of arrested soldiers
Côte d’Ivoire authorities have accused their Malian counterparts of hostage-taking after Malian leader colonel Assimi Goita tied the release of Ivorian soldiers to the handover of people who have been on its territory since 2013 and who are wanted in Mali.
“No release of Ivorian soldiers without extradition of Malian politicians in return,” Goita said in a statement issued on Friday. “We now consider this to be hostage taking and blackmail,” a source close to Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara said in a reply.
“These two questions can’t be linked, it’s all about settling scores,” the source added. It is unclear who the people wanted by Bamako are.
Malian authorities arrested in July at Bamako airport 49 Ivorian troops on the charge of coup plot but Abidjan slammed the charge arguing that the forces were on a routine rotation for personnel who provide back-up services for the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA.
President Ouattara called for their immediate release. Togo intervened to broker the release of the held soldiers. Last week, Lome announced the liberation of three soldiers, all of them women, by Malian authorities on humanitarian grounds.
Togo also indicated that talks for the release of the remaining soldiers were ongoing.