Status: 07/13/2022 11:30 a.m
The government in Mali has arrested 49 Ivorian soldiers. Those in power suspected an attempted coup – in fact, the men came to protect a UN base. Defense Minister Lambrecht criticized.
The military government in West African Mali has arrested the guards at a camp belonging to the UN force MINUSMA at the airport in the capital Bamako.
The men from neighboring Ivory Coast had flown to Mali as an exchange contingent for another unit, as reported by the dpa news agency, citing military circles.
According to MINUSMA spokesman Olivier Salgado, the Ivorian soldiers are to support the blue helmet mission. Although they are not part of the blue helmets contingent, they are providing logistical support for the UN troops in the country. This is “common practice” in peacekeeping missions. The soldiers are exchange for a force securing a MINUSMA base at the airport.
Government in Mali: 49 “mercenaries” arrested
The Malian government in Bamako had previously announced that it had arrested 49 soldiers from the neighboring country as “mercenaries”. They ended up in the capital with weapons, ammunition and military equipment without permission. The soldiers had “illegally entered Mali territory”.
The government of Ivory Coast had been contacted, it said. They assured that they knew nothing about the presence of the soldiers arrested in Mali. According to Mali’s military government, an attempted coup was planned.
Lambrecht: arrests “very problematic signal”
Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht sharply criticized those in power in Mali after the arrest. “The behavior of the Malian rulers is a very problematic signal. Here – unfortunately again – considerable doubts are appropriate as to whether Mali still has any interest in constructive cooperation within the framework of MINUSMA,” Lambrecht told the dpa news agency. She called on those responsible in Mali to release the Ivorian soldiers immediately.
Mali has experienced three military coups since 2012 and is politically extremely unstable. Since the most recent coup in May, the country has been led by a transitional military government that has been criticized for its close ties to Russia. The military junta has promised elections by the end of March 2024.
Islamist terrorist groups have been troubling the state for years. The Bundeswehr continues to be involved in the UN peacekeeping mission MINUSMA in Mali. However, the European training mission EUTM is to be largely stopped.