Ivory Coast has called on West Africa’s political bloc to help in the release of 46 soldiers detained by Mali’s military government after a Togolese-led mediation effort appeared to have stalled.
ALM recalls that Mali detained the soldiers in its capital Bamako on July 10 after accusing them of being mercenaries who flew in without permission.
However, the Ivorian government said they were part of a security and logistics contingent working under a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali. The government has made repeated pleas for their release but to no avail.
Ivory Coast government spokesperson, Amadou Coulibaly Wednesday made this call at an extraordinary meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to resolve the issue.
“Our soldiers are not mercenaries but hostages,” said Coulibaly, demanding their immediate release.
But Mali’s interim President, Assimi Goita this month accused Ivory Coast of providing asylum to wanted political figures wanted and called for a “mutually beneficial” solution to the row. An allegation Coulibaly on Wednesday called “unacceptable blackmail.”