Ivory Coast has demanded the immediate release of 49 of its soldiers arrested in Mali, citing that its men are part of a security support deal signed with the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali in 2019.

The incident which is capable of worsening tensions between Mali’s military rulers and other West African nations amid efforts to quell activity by armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and the ISIL (ISIS group) and restore democratic rule, have been widely condemned by west African Nations.

Junta forces have charged 49 Ivorian troopers for illegal entry into Mali, despite claims of participating in a mission to the military-controlled country.

The Ivorian soldiers, who arrived Bamako airport, Mali, were said to be unpermitted and failed to possess proper documentation, making Goita’s junta label them as ‘mercenaries’. They are believed to be part of the United Nations Multidimensional Built-in Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

Interim Chief, Colonel Assimi Goita, took to Twitter acknowledging the role of UN, but reiterated the stance of Mali. He also stated that he had conversed with UN Secretary Basic António Guterres.

‘We mentioned UN help for the transition course of in Mali and I reiterated the necessity for companions to respect the sovereignty of Mali,’ he said.

Meanwhile, officers in Ivory Coast have urged citizens and all to hold their horses, while keeping tab on the development. They further demanded that these soldiers be released immediately; explaining that the deployed troops are part of a safety and logistics aide contract involving a peacekeeping mission in Mali—by the UN. This was seconded my spokesperson for the UN mission in Mali, Olivier Salgado, who also revealed that the juntas were earlier informed of the arrival of the deployment of Ivorian soldiers.

‘The troopers arrested yesterday at #Bamako airport will not be a part of one of many #MINUSMA contingents. These troopers have been deployed for a number of years in #Mali as a part of logistical help for one in every of our contingents,’ Salgado Tweeted.

Countries and major aides to Mali have condemned the junta forces in the West African country—spearheaded by Colonel Goita—for not holding elections after orchestrating a coup, and arresting interim president Bah Ndaw, and interim prime minister Moctar Ouane, some months ago. Mali were also suspended by the AU due to the unwelcomed ousting.

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