Ivory Coast’s government has accused Malian authorities of blackmail.
This comes after Malian authorities demanded the surrender of Malian politicians in exile in Côte d’Ivoire in exchange for the release of Ivorian soldiers detained since July.
In a statement, the National Security Council, CNS denounced the “unacceptable blackmail” of the Malian transitional authorities for demanding the extradition of certain Malian personalities in exile in Ivory Coast in exchange for the release of the Ivorian soldiers.
The CNS says it has instructed the foreign affairs ministry to refer the matter to the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS to organise an extraordinary meeting on the crisis between the two neighbours.
Report says Abidjan had expected an end to the crisis after three female soldiers were released on September 3.
However, the remaining 46 Ivorian soldiers are still being held, with their case considered a judicial matter in Mali.
Ivorian authorities now say Mali’s demand confirms that the soldiers are not mercenaries but hostages.
Meanwhile, mediations by several heads of state in the region seeking the release of the Ivorian soldiers through diplomatic channels have not been successful.
On August 15, the detained Ivorian soldiers were charged by the Malian judiciary for attempting to undermine the security of the state.
Abidjan however said they were on a mission for the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali.