The 46 Ivorian soldiers held by Mali since July 10, 2022 are finally released. Described as mercenaries by Bamako, they were sentenced to 20 years in prison before being pardoned last Friday, January 6 by Colonel Assimi Goïta.
The 46 Ivorian soldiers are finally free. They were released on Saturday, January 7, 2023, and arrived the same day at the Abidjan airport, where Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara was waiting for them. The day before, these soldiers had received a presidential pardon from the head of the Malian junta, Assimi Goïta.
” His Excellency Colonel Assimi Goïta, President of the Transition, Head of State, has granted a full pardon to the 49 Ivorians convicted by the Malian justice system “The Malian government spokesman, Colonel Abdoulaye Maïga, announced on Malian television on Friday, January 6, 2023.
Thus, this decision overturns the sentence pronounced against these soldiers by the Bamako Court of Appeal on Friday, December 30, 2022. Indeed, the Malian justice system had pronounced a sentence of twenty years of criminal imprisonment and a fine of 2 million CFA francs (3,000 euros) each against the 46 Ivorian soldiers then still detained in Mali. While the three female soldiers of their contingent, released “on humanitarian grounds” by Mali in early September, were sentenced in absentia to death and fined 10 million CFA francs each.
According to the Malian transitional government, this gesture demonstrates Colonel Goïta’s commitment “to peace, dialogue, pan-Africanism, and the preservation of fraternal and secular relations with the countries of the region, in particular Mali and Ivory Coast.”
In this case where Togo is mediating, a memorandum of understanding was signed on December 22, 2022 as a basis for the release of the soldiers.
Arriving Saturday night in Abidjan, the 46 soldiers were welcomed as heroes by Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara. We can therefore say that this is the end of a diplomatic crisis with many twists and turns. “Obviously, now that this crisis is behind us, we can resume normal relations with the brotherly country of Mali, which needs us and which we also need,” said the Ivorian president in Abidjan, during the ceremony held on Saturday evening in honor of the 46 soldiers.