Read Time: 3 minutes
PRESIDENCY OF THE REPUBLIC
National Security Council
Republic of Côte d’Ivoire
Communiqué of the National Security Council
An extraordinary meeting of the National Security Council was held on Wednesday, 14 September 2022, at the Palace of the Presidency of the Republic, under the chairmanship of His Excellency Alassane OUATTARA, President of the Republic.
During the meeting, which focused on the situation of the 46 Ivorian soldiers still detained in Mali, the President of the Republic informed the National Security Council of the initiatives taken by His Excellency Mr. Faure Gnassingbé, President of the Togolese Republic, and several other Heads of State, including His Excellency Mr. Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal and current Chairperson of the African Union, His Excellency Mr. Umaro Sissoco Embaló, President of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau and current Chairman of ECOWAS, His Excellency Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, President of the Transition of Burkina Faso, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Colonel Mamadi Doumbouya, President of the Transition of the Republic of Guinea and His Excellency Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, with a view to resolving the crisis between Côte d’Ivoire and Mali by diplomatic means; This crisis follows the arrest of 49 Ivorian soldiers in Bamako on 10 July 2022.
These Ivorian soldiers, deployed in Mali as the 8th detachment of the National Support Element within the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), were arrested on 10 July 2022.
in Mali (MINUSMA), were arrested on the grounds that they were mercenaries.
Côte d’Ivoire reacted officially on 12 July 2022 through a communiqué from the National Security Council, stating that the 49 soldiers were indeed Ivorian soldiers on an official and legal mission in Mali and demanding their immediate release.
However, despite the evidence provided, notably during a meeting on 28 July 2022 in Lomé, attesting to the legal and legitimate nature of the mission of these Ivorian soldiers in Mali, the Malian justice system charged the 49 Ivorian soldiers on 15 August 2022 with “attempting to undermine state security”.
Several contacts with Malian officials subsequently led to the conclusion that misunderstandings and shortcomings were at the root of the arrest of our soldiers. As a result, three female soldiers were released and returned to Côte d’Ivoire on 3 September 2022.
On 9 September 2022, while the other 46 soldiers, whose arrest was considered by Mali to be a judicial matter, were expected to be released soon, the authorities
In return for the release of these 46 soldiers, the Malian authorities demanded that Côte d’Ivoire extradite to Mali personalities who, according to them, “benefit from the protection of Côte d’Ivoire to destabilise Mali”.
This request confirms, once again, that our soldiers are in no way mercenaries but rather hostages.
The National Security Council considers this blackmail unacceptable and demands the release of our 46 soldiers without delay.
The Head of State reiterates that Côte d’Ivoire, a country committed to peace, stability and respect for the rule of law in the sub-region, cannot be part of a logic of destabilization of a third country. In addition, it recalls its instructions that foreign political opponents
political opponents living in Côte d’Ivoire are required to observe, in all circumstances, a duty of absolute reserve concerning the internal affairs of their country of origin.
In view of the latest developments which are likely to undermine peace and security in the sub-region, the President of the Republic has instructed the Minister of State, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to refer the matter to the ECOWAS Commission with a view to holding, as soon as possible, an extraordinary meeting of Heads of State and Government to examine the crisis between Côte d’Ivoire and Mali, in order to secure the release of our soldiers as soon as possible.
The President of the Republic reiterates to the 46 soldiers unjustly arrested in Mali and to their families, all his support and solidarity in these difficult moments.
The Head of State once again congratulates the Defence and Security Forces for the serenity they have shown in the face of this crisis. Finally, he urged Ivorians to remain calm and restrained. He assures them that all measures are being taken so that our valiant soldiers will soon return to our country.
Done in Abidjan, on Wednesday 14 September 2022
Mr. Fidèle SARASSORO, Executive Secretary of the National Security Council