At the invitation of the political organization CONASU ( National Coalition for Recovery), hundreds of people marched this Tuesday, September 20 in the port city of Abidjan. They expressed their support to the 46 Ivorian soldiers held by neighboring Mali and demanded their immediate release.
The objectives of the demonstration on Tuesday, September 20 were of two kinds. To say no to the demands of the Malian junta and to demand the unconditional release of the 46 Ivorian soldiers still in detention. And what especially sparked this movement was that after the release of three female soldiers in September, the president of the transition in Mali had mentioned the extradition of Malian personalities who had taken refuge in Ivory Coast in “return”.
A request that is not at all to the taste of the organizers of the event. For them, giving in to Bamako’s demands is out of the question. The political organization CONASU ( National Coalition for Recovery) also called for the immediate release of the soldiers.
CONASU denounces Malian-style blackmail
Awassa Abdoul, is the spokesperson of the political organization CONASU. According to this official, Bamako’s demand is pure blackmail to which no Ivorian will give in.
“We will never accept blackmail or manipulation by the Malian military junta. That is why we reiterate our support to the President of the Republic (of Ivory Coast) so that he can count on the Ivory Coast people, on the youth…”.
“Our children are not criminals and this cannot be changed by a Malian politician. That will not happen. They must free these children,” exclaimed Assetou Kone, mother of a detained soldier. Very saddened, she added afterwards that ” they are just ordinary soldiers. They are not criminals. They have nothing to do with Malian politics, so free our children“.
Pressure tactics to escape ECOWAS sanctions?
Since the beginning of the case, Ivory Coast has maintained that the troops arrested on arrival at Bamako airport were part of a regular rotation of troops working to support UN peacekeeping operations. Tensions in the region have been high since Mali’s military junta abandoned plans for a quick return to democratic rule and the country was imposed sanctions by ECOWAS.
This Thursday, September 22, 2022 in New York, an extraordinary summit of ECOWAS will be held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The leaders of the West African Organization will mainly discuss the case of the 46 Ivorian soldiers still held in Mali.