The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had given Mali until January 1st to release 46 Ivorian soldiers it claims are mercenaries.
However, the date has now passed and the 46 soldiers, who were sentenced to 20 years in prison, have not been released.
It appears ECOWAS, the main regional body for West Africa, does not intend to punish Mali, not yet anyway.
On 22 December, a visit to Bamako by an official Ivorian delegation ended with the signing of a memorandum, with the Ivorian Minister of Defence, Téné Birahima Ouattara, brother of the Head of State, stressing that the matter was “on the way to resolution.”
It appears that, as relations between Mali and Côte d’Ivoire have improved significantly with the memorandum recently signed by the two governments, ECOWAS considers it is not the time to create new tensions.
The agreement reached between Mali and Ivory Coast leaves open the possibility of a presidential pardon for the head of the Malian military junta, Assimi Goïta.
Therefore, all eyes are now on Koulouba, the seat of the presidential palace in Bamako.
And to speed up the process that could lead to a pardon, the defence lawyers have filed an act of non-appeal to certify that they renounce all means of appeal.
According to Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, the soldiers “will soon return to Ivorian soil.”
“My thoughts are particularly with our soldiers detained in Mali since 10 July,” Ouattara said in his end-of-year speech broadcast on national television RTI.
“Thanks to diplomatic actions undertaken with the support of leaders of several friendly countries, including the president of the Togolese Republic Faure Gnassingbé, three female soldiers were released last September,” he recalled.