The 62nd Summit of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS Group concluded on Sunday evening, December 4, in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. The summit adopted a project to establish a regional force affiliated with the Economic Community of West African States to confront terrorism.
ECOWAS Commission President Omar Touray called for the release before January 1 of 46 soldiers from Cote d’Ivoire held in Mali, adding that ECOWAS reserves the right to act if the soldiers are not released before the specified date.
Mali had arrested the Ivorian forces on July 10 upon their arrival at Bamako airport.
Last July, it detained 49 Ivorian soldiers upon their arrival at Bamako airport, announcing that it would deal with them as “mercenaries.” Yamoussoukro says that they were part of a security and logistical unit operating within the framework of the peacekeeping mission, and repeated calls were made for their release.
crisis resolution efforts
- Recently, Côte d’Ivoire announced the withdrawal of its forces operating in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), which is the sixth largest military contributor to the force, with 857 soldiers, according to MINUSMA figures.
- However, 3 Ivorian soldiers were later released, after mediation led by the President of Togo for the release of 49 soldiers.
- Last September, the Economic Community of West African States decided to send a high-level delegation to Mali to try to solve the crisis, but no progress has been reported from this mission.
- The President of Togo, Faure Gnassingbé, plays a mediating role in ending the crisis of Côte d’Ivoire’s soldiers. Last October, Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara received the President of Togo, in Abidjan, to discuss the file of the soldiers’ detention crisis.
- At the end of last September, the Malian authorities decided to release three female soldiers from Cote d’Ivoire who were being held under the mediation of the President of Togo, but 46 soldiers are still being held by the military junta in Bamako.
- A high-level mission sent by the ECOWAS group to Mali at the end of last September met with the head of the military junta, Colonel Asimi Guetta, to try to resolve the crisis, but without achieving results.
The future of the crisis
The leader of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad, Mr. Ben Bella, believes that there is a crisis in the administration of the country by the military council in Bamako, which manages matters with a populist nationalist military mentality that is keen to tickle the emotions of the public, and does not achieve the interests of the state.
He believed that the statement issued by the “ECOWAS” summit reveals the depth of the crisis facing the military council in Bamako with the Economic Community of West African States.
He pointed out that the President of Togo is working to mediate an end to the crisis of detaining Cote d’Ivoire soldiers, as its continuation affects the relations between “Yamoussoukro” and Bamako, turning the crisis into a complex conflict between the two countries, which threatens stability in the West African region.
But Mali is facing two scenarios of the crisis
- The first is the intransigence of the Transitional Council to release Cote d’Ivoire’s soldiers, and then the ECOWAS group imposed sanctions on Bamako, which weakens the regime. Also, “Yamoussoukro” may resort to punishing Mali, there by stopping the passage of thousands of financial trucks carrying goods through the territory of Cote d’Ivoire, as well as “Yamoussoukro” provides electricity to Mali, and in response to a question about the recent power outages in Bamako and other cities across Mali, which depend on its neighbor Côte d’Ivoire for energy. Mali’s energy imports from Côte d’Ivoire constitute 27%. And making decisions multiplies the crises on the military council in Bamako, according to “Ben Bella”.
- The second scenario is accepting mediation by Togo to save the face of the military council, and the release of Cote d’Ivoire soldiers, a scenario that needs wisdom by the head of the transitional military council, Asimi Guetta.
Mali had called on Côte d’Ivoire to recognize its responsibility in the case and expresses its regret for the deployment of soldiers, as well as the handover of Abidjan to hand over the people who have been on its territory since 2013 and who are wanted by Bamako, including former Prime Minister Bobo Cisse and former Minister Teman Hubert Coulibaly, and Karim Keita, son of former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. .
For its part, Cote d’Ivoire denounced Mali’s demands, describing these demands as “unacceptable blackmail.”
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