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Mali former PM Cissé in group of 11 released by junta

Photo of former Malian prime minister Boubou Cissé, who was among the 11 people released by the transitional government this week.
Photo of former Malian prime minister Boubou Cissé, who was among the 11 people released by the transitional government this week. MICHELE CATTANI / AFP
3 min

Former Mali prime minister Boubou Cissé was released along with 10 others who had been detained by the junta during the 18 August Mali coup d’etat, according to transition Vice President Assimi Goita.


In a statement, the transitional government said that the former captives, including Former national assembly speaker Moussa Timbine and eight generals, would "remain at the disposition of the courts if needed.”

The regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had made their release part of their demands in order to lift sanctions on the country after the coup.

The sanctions were lifted earlier this week as the transitional government made "notable advances towards constitutional normalization."  

ECOWAS feared that the coup could send shockwaves throughout the region, destabilizing other governments and undermine the ongoing fight against jihadists in the Sahel.

No word on last French hostage, Mali leader

In other news, there is no word on two hostages said to be held by jihadists in Mali and who were rumoured to be released soon. The transitional government had released a number of jihadists over the weekend.

 Sophie Petronin, 75, dubbed as the “last French hostage in the world” was abducted from Gao on 24 December 2016. The aid worker, who ran her own children’s charity, was suffering from cancer at the time and has a number of other health problems.

Her son, Sebstien Chadaud, flew to Bamako on Tuesday, but has no news on his mother.

"We still don't know whether she's part of these negotiations," said Chadaud, while the Malian and French governments would not confirm a prisoner swap.

However, jihadist-surveillance group SITE Intelligence released information on its website this week that one jihadist group considers prisoner swap a “key military strategy.”

Supporters of Soumalia Cissé, 70, a former opposition leader and presidential candidate, hoped he would be released as well.

Cissé was kidnapped on 25 March while campaigning for parliamentary elections in central Mali, where he hails from. Cissé’s abduction angered Malians, who added that to their grievances against then-president Ibrahim Boubakar Keita.

Keita was deposed by a military junta in August, which has created a civilian-military transitional government, with junta head Assimi Goita as vice president.

Mali has been trying to eradicate an Islamist insurgency since 2012, as parts of the country still remain outside of government control.

Jihadists have kidnapped a number of foreigners in Mali, and at least eight people are still being held.


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