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Ivory Coast: Negotiations ongoing over the release of detained soldiers in Mali- army chief

General Lassina Doumbia   -  
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SIA KAMBOU/AFP or licensors

Ivory Coast

The Chief of Staff of the Ivorian army was reassuring about the fate of the 49 soldiers of his country detained since July 10 in Mali, which accuses them of being "mercenaries", saying that "negotiations are continuing" for their release.

"There is no alert, no bad news about their health and their conditions of detention," said General Lassina Doumbia, quoted Friday by the official portal of the Ivorian government.

The fact that they have been charged and imprisoned in Mali has not changed the course of negotiations to obtain their release as quickly as possible, according to him.

"I would like to reassure you that the decision of the committal order has no consequence on the negotiations which are continuing," he said to the families of the 49 soldiers he met Thursday in Abidjan. "Let us remain united and in solidarity," he told them.

On behalf of President Alassane Ouattara, he gave each of the families 500,000 CFA francs (762 euros) in aid.

Considered "mercenaries", the 49 soldiers were charged in mid-August by the Malian judiciary, notably for "attempting to undermine the external security of the State" and formally imprisoned.

Abidjan asserts that these soldiers were on a mission for the UN, as part of logistical support operations for the UN Mission in Mali (Minusma) and is demanding their release.

Several mediations are underway to obtain their release, including that of Togo and Malian religious leaders.

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