Ivory Coast is slowly withdrawing its military contingent from the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) after the continued detention of 46 Ivorian soldiers who have been accused of being mercenaries.
The announcement which was through a letter sent to the UN secretary-general last week said that Ivory Coast officials said they would not replace their personnel in MINUSMA when the current group rotates out in August.
The Ivorian soldiers were sent to Mali to work for Sahelian Aviation Services, a private company contracted by the UN.
Negotiations have stalled over the release of the Ivorian soldiers, who were arrested at the Bamako airport on arrival in July .three female soldiers have been released, but the others remain in Malian custody
However, Mali’s government said it considered the Ivorians to be mercenaries because they were not directly employed by the UN mission and charged them with undermining state security.
In September the regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) condemned Malian authorities for using “blackmail” in their negotiations with Ivorian authorities.
On Monday, the UK announced it would be withdrawing its 300 peacekeepers from Mali, saying the country’s growing reliance on Russian mercenaries is undermining stability.