Mali’s interim president wants a mutually beneficial solution to end a diplomatic row over 46 Ivorian soldiers detained in Mali, noting that Ivory Coast has given asylum to political figures wanted by his junta, state television said on Saturday.
The Ivorian soldiers were detained at Mali’s international airport in the capital, Bamako, on July 10. Mali’s junta said they had flown in without permission and were seen as mercenaries.
Ivory Coast, which has repeatedly requested their release, says the soldiers had been deployed as part of a security and logistics support contract signed with the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali.
Interim President Assimi Goita “has made it clear that at a time when Ivory Coast is requesting the release of its soldiers, it continues to serve as a political asylum for certain Malian political figures who are the subject of an international arrest warrant,” the state broadcaster said.
Goita’s junta came to power in a coup two years ago, ousting former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, whose son Karim is in Ivory Coast along with former government ministers Tieman Huber Coulibaly and Igor Diarra.
According to the broadcast, Goita would like a mutually beneficial solution to the stand-off over the soldiers “as opposed to a one-way solution that consists of acceding to the Ivorian demands without any compensation for Mali”.
Since coming to power, Mali’s transitional authorities have repeatedly sparred with neighbouring countries and Western powers over election delays, alleged army abuses and cooperation with Russian mercenaries in the West African nation’s fight against Islamist militants.