Mali’s public prosecutor’s office said Tuesday that it had opened an investigation into the recent arrest at the country’s main international airport of 49 soldiers from Ivory Coast.
Mali's military government said last week that it had arrested the soldiers upon their arrival in the capital Bamako after they were found to be in possession of weapons and ammunition of war “without a mission order.”
“The Prosecutor General at the Bamako Court of Appeal has opened a judicial investigation to shed light on the case of the 49 Ivorian soldiers arrested in Mali on Sunday, July 10, 2022,” it said in a statement.
Malian authorities had said they considered the arrested soldiers as “mercenaries” to be prosecuted.
But the arrest of the soldiers has created tensions between Mali and Ivory Coast, which believes that its soldiers were arrested “unjustly.”
Ivory Coast’s president’s office last week demanded the immediate release of the soldiers, saying they were part of its logistical contingent to support its troops deployed under the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
Ivory Coast also dismissed claims by Malian authorities that its soldiers were in possession of weapons and ammunition of war at the time of arrest.
On Monday, Togo’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Robert Dussey, announced that Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe had accepted a proposal made by Malian authorities to broker efforts between Mali and Ivory Coast with a view to the release of the soldiers.
Dussey made the announcement after a meeting with Malian transition leader Colonel Assimi Goïta in the capital Bamako.