Mali detained the military in theirs the capital of Bamako on July 10 after the indictment they are mercenaries who flew in without permission.

Ivory Coast said they were part of the security and logistics contingent working as part of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali. The government repeatedly asked for their release.

In a televised statement on Wednesday, the government press secretary Amadou Coulibaly called for an extraordinary meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to resolve the issue.

“Our soldiers are not mercenaries, but hostages,” Coulibaly said, demanding their immediate release.

Mali’s military, which seized power in two coups in 2020 and 2021, could not be reached for comment.

Mali’s interim president Assimi Goito this month accused Ivory Coast of harboring political figures wanted by his junta and called for a “mutually beneficial” solution to the dispute.

Coulibaly on Wednesday prompted Goyta’s comments on the decision “unacceptable blackmail”.

Mali hoped for ten years on regional allies and peacekeepers to contain an Islamist insurgency that has killed thousands and seized large swaths of central and northern territory.

But there is quarreled with neighbors and allies since taking power.

Former colonial power France pulled troops exited last month, completing a 10-year mission, after a long-running dispute over airspace, troop movements and Mali’s decision to team up with Russian mercenaries from the Kremlin-linked Wagner group, hundreds of whom are now working alongside Mali’s army.

This year, ECOWAS introduced strict sanctions against Mali, relaxation its fragile economy. He lifted them in July after rulers agreed to a 24-month transition to civilian rule.

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