Exclusive: Ivorian soldiers arrested in Mali were part of UN mission

© REUTERS - Luc Gnago

In information revealed by RFI, 49 Ivorian soldiers who were arrested last year in Mali and accused of being mercenaries were part of the UN's Minusma mission and had been deployed at the request of the German contingent.

The Ivorian military personnel were pardoned and released to return home earlier this month.

Arrested on their arrival in Bamako in July, 2022, they were convicted by a Malian military court last December of "plotting against the government" and "undermining the external security of the state".

Côte d'Ivoire insisted that the soldiers were part of a so-called National Support Element (NSE) to reinforce Minusma operations, in accordance with a communiqué from the Ivorian National Security Council on 12 July.

The UN Mission itself had already revealed this on 11 July, before a UN spokesperson mysteriously back-tracked on the announcement three days later in a statement from UN headquarters in New York.

This turn around led to Bamako's expulsion of Minusma's spokesman less than a week later, and paved the way for Mali's military junta to accuse the Ivorians of having come to destabilise the country.

UN agreement with Côte d'Ivoire

The affair lasted six months, with the UN calling for the release of the 49 soldiers without clearly specifying their status.

According to several internal UN documents seen by RFI, it was indeed Minusma, more precisely, the German contingent of the UN mission, that brought in the Ivorians.

The 49 soldiers arrested by the junta were the eighth rotation.

Read more on RFI English

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