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Entertainment What we know about the release of Sophie Pétronin and Soumaïla Cissé in Mali

07:40  09 october  2020
07:40  09 october  2020 Source:   ouest-france.fr

Kidnapped politician, French aid worker to be freed in Mali prisoner swap

  Kidnapped politician, French aid worker to be freed in Mali prisoner swap Kidnapped politician, French aid worker to be freed in Mali prisoner swapCisse, a popular politician who served as finance minister from 1993 to 2000, was kidnapped by gunmen while campaigning in the northern region of Timbuktu in March, while Petronin, who ran a charity for malnourished and orphaned children, was abducted near the northern city of Gao in late 2016.

Ex- Malian opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé and two Italian nationals were also freed, the Malian government said. Their release was part of a prisoner swap for more than 100 jihadists. On Thursday, the Malian presidency said that both Ms Pétronin and Mr Cissé , who was abducted in

Authorities in Mali have confirmed the release of an elderly French aid worker, two Italian captives and a top Malian politician, all believed to have been held by jihadists. A tweet on Thursday said that French woman Sophie Pétronin , 75, and Soumaïla Cissé , 70, were on their way to the capital Bamako.

Cette vidéo diffusée le 13 juin 2018 était la dernière preuve de vie de l'otage française Sophie Pétronin. © SITE INTELLIGENCE GROUP / AFP This video released on June 13, 2018 was the last proof of the life of French hostage Sophie Pétronin.

Sophie Pétronin, the last French hostage in the world, and the Malian opponent Soumaïla Cissé arrived Thursday, October 8 in Bamako aboard a Malian army transport plane, marking the end of their long captivity in the hands of Islamist insurgents.

The release in Mali of Sophie Pétronin, Soumaïla Cissé and two Italians raises a multitude of questions, on its genesis, its development and its consequences.

We take stock of what we know…. and do not know of this release.

When did the negotiations start?

Undertaken as soon as she was kidnapped in December 2016 in Gao, in northern Mali, efforts for the release of Sophie Pétronin were made “relentlessly” but in the “discretion” , according to French President Emmanuel Macron . Far too timid, according to the family of the 75-year-old aid worker, who repeatedly urged the president and the French government to agree to negotiate with the kidnappers.

French, Italian captives freed with top politician in Mali

  French, Italian captives freed with top politician in Mali Mali announced Thursday the release of an elderly French aid worker, two Italian captives and a top Malian politician, all believed to have been held by jihadists. French President Emmanuel Macron immediately voiced "immense relief" at the release of the worker, the last French hostage in the world, and expressed France's continued support for Mali in its fight against an Islamist insurgency. Mali's presidency said in a tweet on Thursday that Frenchwoman Sophie Petronin, 75, and Soumaila Cisse, 70, were on their way to the capital Bamako.

Pétronin ’s release came days after Mali freed more than 100 suspected or convicted jihadists as part of negotiations for the release of both her and Cissé The family had only “informal contact” with the French foreign ministry. “But it is not moving forward … We know very well that Mr. Macron does not

BAMAKO, Mali — Official: Jihadists have freed Malian politician Soumaila Cisse , French aid worker Sophie Petronin . Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

The kidnapping on March 25, 2020 of Soumaïla Cissé , then leader of the opposition, in the midst of the legislative campaign near Timbuktu (north-west), has, by its symbolic significance, revealed the flaws of a state and of its president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.

President Keïta broke dogma in February by saying he was ready to open a dialogue with the jihadists. But very little information has filtered out on the reality or the content of such contacts.

For its part, Soumaïla Cissé's party created an "crisis cell" and its release was one of the main demands of the popular movement, which demanded the resignation of the head of state.

The junta which overthrew President Keïta on August 18 made the return of Soumaïla Cissé one of its priority objectives. But nothing seemed to be happening until these days.

Six months after her kidnapping, Soumaïla Cissé regains her freedom

 Six months after her kidnapping, Soumaïla Cissé regains her freedom © MICHELE CATTANI / AFP The leader of the Malian opposition, Soumaïla Cissé during a march in September 2018 in Bamako. The president of the URD and leader of the Malian opposition, Soumaïla Cissé was released this Thursday, October 8, 2020. He has been in captivity since his kidnapping on March 25 in northern Mali, while he was campaigning for legislative elections. He was in the midst of an electoral campaign, near Niafunké, in the region of Timbuktu, his stronghold.

Sophie Pétronin and Soumaïla Cissé freed by militants. Ethiopian parliament severs links with Tigray leaders. Tanzania MP Zitto Kabwe injured in road accident. Sophie Pétronin , 75, was abducted in Mali in December 2016Image caption: Sophie Pétronin , 75, was abducted in Mali in December 2016.

Islamic extremists have freed prominent Malian politician Soumaila Cisse after holding him hostage for more than six months along with a French aid worker who was kidnapped back in 2016, an official said Tuesday. Journalist Mohamed Salaha tells us more.

Two days of waiting between release and official announcement

During the weekend of October 3 and earlier this week, the new authorities released some 200 suspected or convicted jihadists and sent them without official explanation to the center and north of the country.

While the Malian and French authorities remained silent, various sources close to the negotiations reported as of Monday of a possible exchange against hostages, starting with Soumaïla Cissé and Sophie Pétronin, whose son went to Bamako in emergency Tuesday 6 October.

Media announced on Tuesday the release of the two hostages in Tessalit (northeast), which the authorities have not confirmed. For two days, uncertainty sets in: no more information is circulating and the operation seems likely to fail again.

In its press release on Thursday evening, the Malian government dates the release of Ms. Pétronin and Soumaïla Cissé to “Tuesday, October 6”, as well as two Italian hostages, Father Pier Luigi Maccalli and Nicola Chiacchio.

Emmanuel Macron will welcome Sophie Pétronin on his return to France on Friday

 Emmanuel Macron will welcome Sophie Pétronin on his return to France on Friday The President of the Republic announced on Twitter that he would welcome Sophie Pétronin on his arrival in France on Friday. The last French hostage in the world has regained freedom in Mali after four years of detention allegedly in the hands of jihadists, Malian authorities announced Thursday. © Ludovic Marin / POOL / AFP The President of the Republic announced on Twitter that he would welcome Sophie Pétronin upon her arrival in France on Friday.

Mali announced Thursday the release of an elderly French aid worker, two Italian captives and a top Malian politician, all believed to have been held by jihadists. Mali 's presidency said in a tweet on Thursday that Frenchwoman Sophie Petronin , 75, and Soumaila Cisse , 70, were on their way to the

Islamic extremists have freed prominent Malian politician Soumaila Cisse after holding him hostage for more than six months along with a French aid worker who was kidnapped back in 2016, an official said Tuesday. Journalist Mohamed Salaha tells us more.

But he provides no reason for this two-day delay between release and its official announcement.

Malian television mentioned "difficulties" of the last minute, due in particular to too much media coverage. The addition to the negotiations, which primarily concerned Mr. Cissé, of the French humanitarian issue or of the two Italians, could also complicate the equation.

The liberation of jihadists, a risky bet for Mali

Internally, the release of Mr. Cissé is a success for the new Malian power, dominated by the military.

By regaining her freedom, Soumaïla Cissé can resume her place in the political sphere with a view to the elections scheduled within 18 months.

If the release of Sophie Pétronin can only rejoice France, militarily very present in the Sahel, the most visible counterpart - the release of jihadists likely to commit new attacks could turn out to be a risky bet for Mali, or even neighboring countries.

Especially if among them are those responsible for some of the most deadly attacks in recent years in the region.

Hostages in Mali: a success of the jihadists with incalculable fallout .
© STRINGER The former hostage Sophie Pétronin, with her son Sébastien Chadaud-Pétronin in Bamako, October 8, 2020 First of all, a certainty: it is the jihadist alliance in the Sahel linked to Al-Qaeda, which emerges victorious from the exchange in Mali of 200 detainees against four hostages.

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