Abidjan is trying to drown the fish in the water by beating the reminder of ECOWAS, the African Union and even the UN to put pressure on Bamako. The maneuver will not pass. Mali denounces the reversal of Côte d’Ivoire and the attempt to manipulate in order to hinder the manifestation of the truth. A diplomatic battle is expected this week in New York
By Issa DEMBELE
The freedom granted to the three Ivorian soldiers by the Malian justice, should consolidate the dynamics of dialogue between the political authorities to achieve the release of the 46 other “mercenaries”. Also, in the opinion of many observers, President Assimi Goïta’s request relating to the situation of Malians, subject to international arrest warrants, offered a basis for discussion to reach a compromise. We can indeed concede to Mali the right to prosecute its nationals in breach of the law and who have found refuge in Côte d’Ivoire, from where they are trying to disrupt the ongoing Transition.
Abidjan will have seen there, unfortunately, only a breach to be exploited and pose as the victim of a crisis born however from its “breaches” of the elementary rules of engagement of troops on the ground of a sovereign State. The neighbor thus passes off his “mercenaries” as “hostages”, speaks of “blackmail” and calls for an extraordinary meeting of West African leaders on a purely judicial and bilateral matter.
The reversal is spectacular, “serious”, according to the Malian government which reacted last Thursday to the communiqué of the National Security Council of Côte d’Ivoire. Mali’s astonishment is all the more “deep” since the Ivorian government had recognized, on September 3 in Lomé, that “failures and misunderstandings” are at the origin of this incident. And he had even undertaken to respect the procedures of the United Nations, as well as the new Malian rules and provisions enacted relating to the deployment of military forces in Mali.
For the government of Mali, this reversal aims to manipulate and hinder the manifestation of the truth. He warns against any manipulation of ECOWAS by the Ivorian authorities to avoid their responsibility vis-à-vis Mali. And affirms that he is “in no way concerned by this procedure before the Community authority”.
What will be the reaction of the Togolese mediator to the decision of Côte d’Ivoire to turn this affair into a diplomatic crisis? The least that can be said is that this maneuver by the Ivorian side does not favor the success of the efforts made so far by the Togolese president. Efforts that the authorities of the Transition have “kindly supported despite the seriousness of the facts surrounding this case”. Thus proving that they are not in a position to “cross swords” with Côte d’Ivoire, a brotherly country.
The government also reiterates in its press release, its attachment to peace and centuries-old good neighborly relations. Like what, the stake for Mali is neither more nor less than the “respect of its sovereignty, its national security and the vital interests of its people”.
For its part, Côte d’Ivoire also affirms its attachment to good neighborly relations.
She insists on her innocence and that of her soldiers, while ignoring the obscure conditions and shortcomings that caused this crisis. We still do not know why these soldiers, including some thirty special forces, landed on Malian soil in “possession of weapons and munitions of war, without mission orders or authorization, while concealing the identities and their real professions”.
BENCH OF THE ACCUSED- Their mission? The versions of the soldiers do not agree. To believe that they were embarked on an adventure, of which they did not know the ins and outs. And the attempt of the Ivorian government to put them under the banner of Minusma has failed. The UN Mission has indeed clearly indicated that these “soldiers were not part of the national support elements”.
Abidjan is trying to use its diplomatic weight to obtain the “immediate” release of its soldiers. Côte d’Ivoire intends to use the opportunity of the UN General Assembly this week to put Mali on trial before the international community. France is apparently involved. Paris already has a very heavy dispute with Mali on the question of the complaint before the Security Council for support for terrorist groups. Participating in an attempt to pillory Bamako would not displease the former colonial power.
In New York, no less than three international meetings are planned, during which Côte d’Ivoire will try to mount foreign partners against Mali. A meeting is scheduled between the French Foreign Minister and ECOWAS leaders on September 21. On September 22, a meeting is on the agenda between the African Union and the UN. On the same day, ECOWAS will hold an extraordinary meeting. The dilatory tactic will not pass. Mali will use its diplomatic means to thwart this attempt to place it in the dock.
Already the French press has started the hype by looping a statement by the Secretary General. ” Nope. They are not mercenaries. It’s obvious. And I appeal to the Malian authorities so that this problem can be resolved. Antonio Guterres was responding to a clearly biased question. “Do you think they are mercenaries? »
No attempt at intimidation, even less at demonization, will cause Mali to back down, resolutely committed to asserting its sovereignty. Regardless of the interlocutor in front. How far will this showdown imposed on the authorities of the Transition go? Despite the tension, everything must be done, on both sides, to preserve the multifaceted relations between the two countries.
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