The authorities in Côte d'Ivoire have announced a gradual withdrawal of Ivorian troops from the United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali. The last Ivorian soldiers will leave by August 2023.
"By order of the government of Côte d'Ivoire, the permanent mission confirms the progressive withdrawal of Ivorian military personnel and police deployed with MINUSMA," according to an official letter sent to the UN force.
"The replacement of units based in Mopti," a central Malian city on the River Niger, "will not now take place," the letter continues. "Neither will the replacement of headquarters staff and police officers, due to take effect in October and November 2022, now go ahead."
No official reason has been given for the decision.
News of the troop withdrawal follows months of diplomatic tension between Abidjan and Bamako.
In July, 49 Ivorian peacekeepers were arrested in Bamako.Three have since been released. The remaining 46 are still in custody, suspected of being mercenaries. Abidjan says the men are regular soldiers who had been assigned to protect the German contingent in Mali.
Negotiations to ensure the release of the men are in progress. In October, Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara said the situation was well on the way to resolution.
A large, dangerous mission
Earlier this week, Britain also announced a decision to cut short its troop deployment with MINUSMA in Mali, after relations with the country's Russian-backed junta soured.
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