the prospect of a diplomatic settlement is complicated

Published in:

In the case of the 49 Ivorian soldiers who were arrested when they arrived in Bamako on July 10, the prospect of a diplomatic settlement seems more threatened. Because the obstacles that are difficult to overcome are now clear, and because the United Nations has not removed some gray areas.

Mali and Côte d’Ivoire are now accusing each other of breaking their word. on a press release issued last nightBamako considers that the Ivorian government ” just recanted “. About ten days ago, during the release of three female soldiers, from 49 arrested, Abidjan recognized ” misunderstandings and misunderstandings of the procedures followed. A confession, in the eyes of Bamako, which is therefore considered a ” renewal » the fee for ” hostage-taking » worn on Wednesday by Abidjan.

On the Ivorian side, it is estimated that recognition ” deficiencies is, on the contrary, proof of good faith: there are administrative dysfunctions, but the soldiers actually arrived within a UN framework and in no way to destabilize Mali. In addition, it is not “apology” pronounced on September 3, for this reason.

Trust is broken

Abidjan believes that, on the contrary, the Malians have gone back on their commitments and therefore have ” credibility problem “. A source close to the Ivorian presidency assures that the Malian transitional president, Colonel Assimi Goïta, has agreed not to request the extradition of Malian politicians who live or remain in Abidjan, and against whom the Malian authorities have issue warrants international arrest (the son of former President IBK, Karim Keïta, former Prime Minister Boubou Cissé and former Minister Tiéman Hubert Coulibaly).

Sources close to the negotiations confirmed this to RFI, who did not hide their surprise at this volte-face of the Malian head of state. But this is the counterpart that Bamako is now demanding in exchange for the release of the Ivorian soldiers. It is difficult to see how two parties who no longer trust the word of the other, and who publish it publicly, can come to an agreement.

Second serious stumbling block: Côte d’Ivoire’s recourse to ECOWAS arbitration was rejected by Mali. A summit of the heads of state of the West African organization is scheduled for next week, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Côte d’Ivoire appealed to the sub-regional institution to secure the release of its soldiers. a” instrumentalization of ECOWAS “, according to the transitional government of Mali, which has already announced that it does not feel ” is not affected by this method. »

Political dossier for Abidjan, judicial for Bamako

For Abidjan, the file is ” politics and diplomacy », and it is President Alassane Ouattara who is the direct target. Because Bamako wants him to pay for the sanctions imposed by ECOWAS and UEMOA between January and last July in exchange for guarantees to hold elections, because the Ivorian president is considered too close to France, or because because Bamako wants to burn. the file through the strategy, to mobilize national pride and divert the attention of the Malians and the media.

For Bamako, on the contrary, the file is ” judicial and bilateral “. This means that unless there is a settlement through Togolese mediation, the only one accepted by Bamako, the 46 Ivorian soldiers who are still detained should be tried for ” violation of state security “.

Regionalization of conflict?

The turn taken by the case with the involvement of ECOWAS, at the request of the Ivorian authorities, certainly takes us away from all the chances of reaching a happy ending. », Estimated Aly Tounkara, teacher-researcher at the University of Bamako and director of the Center for Security and Strategic Studies in the Sahel (CE3S). ” The history between Bamako and some heads of state in ECOWAS (due to sanctions imposed by ECOWAS on Mali between January and last July, editor’s note) may even tighten the conditions for the final release of Ivorian soldiers imprisoned by Bamako. »

So ECOWAS wants to play referees, at the request of Abidjan and against the will of Bamako. Will we witness the regionalization of the conflict and a new showdown between Mali and ECOWAS? ” I don’t think there is an arsenal that allows ECOWAS to demand any release. Côte d’Ivoire recognized the shortcomings that characterized the arrival of its soldiers on Malian soil. So, in the name of legality and equidistance (between the two parties, letter to the Editor), ECOWAS can only play the role of mediator and not arbiter. »

The UN’s ambiguity perpetuates the crisis

If the conflict between Mali and Côte d’Ivoire continues, it will also be due to the worsening situation of the Ivorian soldiers, which has not been resolved by the United Nations. The UN first assured that the captured Ivorian soldiers had the status of NSE (National Support Elements), troops that were not part of Minusma but came to support it. Before, a few days later, to backtrack.

Since then, the United Nations explained, in a note made public by Bamako, that the Ivorian soldiers actually intervened within the UN, to ” providing security to the German NSE base in Sénou, where the airport of Bamako is located. But without clearly specifying under what conditions. Neither Germany – which has a contingent of blue helmets and NSEs in Mali to support them – or its subcontractor SAS (Sahel Aviation Service), a time quoted, admitted to the Malian transitional authorities that they have any contract with the captured Ivorian soldiers, confirmed by Minusma.

If recognized by Côte d’Ivoire ” shortcomings and misunderstandings “, he continues to hammer that it is actually within the framework of support for Minusma that his 49 soldiers were sent to Bamako, and in no case to destabilize Mali. So the administrative dysfunctions seem to be the cause of their arrest, but the nature of these dysfunctions has never been clearly revealed by the United Nations.

Since the outbreak of the movement, Bamako and Minusma have overhauled the procedures for the rotation of foreign soldiers to and from Mali, and Côte d’Ivoire has respected them. Several hundred Ivorian peacekeepers have recently arrived in Mali and are deployed in the North, in Timbuktu.

A UN official directly involved in the case lamented that the United Nations did not accept its share of responsibility. ” We released the Ivorians in full flight “, estimated this source, transferring with humor the now famous formula of the Malian Transitional Prime Minister Choguel Maïga (officially in office despite a “break” that began more than a months and the appointment of an interim head of government).

In any case, in the absence of a clear and definitive explanation from the UN, Mali can continue to affirm, and these are the words of the press release issued Thursday evening, that ” has no legal basis “not dating” justified » the presence or the mission of Ivorian soldiers is still prevented. Whose prospects for a quick release seem very distant within a few days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *