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Kidnapped last March, in the midst of the electoral campaign, the opposition leader in Mali, Soumaïla Cissé, was released, the Malian presidency announced Thursday. Over the weekend, more than a hundred convicted or suspected jihadists were released in the country as part of negotiations for his release.
The Leader of the Opposition in Mali, Soumaïla Cisse, was released on Thursday, October 8, along with the last French hostage in the world Sophie petronin. Details of this release have not been released, but more than a hundred jihadist prisoners were released last weekend on Malian territory.
The presidency of the Malian Republic confirmed on its Twitter account “the release of Mr. Soumaïla Cissé and Ms. Sophie Pétronin. The ex-hostages are on their way to Bamako”. However, no information was provided on their state of health.
The Presidency of the Republic confirms the release of Mr. Soumaila Cisse and Ms. Sophie Petronin. The ex-hostages are on their way to Bamako.
– Presidency Mali (@PresidenceMali) October 8, 2020
The Elysee also welcomed these releases in a statement: in addition to the “relief” after the release of Sophie Pétronin, “the President of the Republic also welcomes the release on the same occasion of Mr. Soumaïla Cissé, Malian politician kidnapped there is six months. The President of the Republic particularly thanks the Malian authorities for this release. He assures them of France’s entire will to support Mali in the fight it is waging with perseverance against terrorism in the Sahel. “
Sophie Pétronin is free.
Held hostage for almost 4 years in Mali, her release is a huge relief. To his family, to his relatives, I send a message of sympathy. To the Malian authorities, thank you. The fight against terrorism in the Sahel continues.
– Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) October 8, 2020
Their release had already been the subject of rumors, 48 hours ago. “But, there was no official source which announced it. I had myself worked on this subject since Saturday. I had been confirmed that a transfer had been started, then nothing more”, explains the journalist de France 24 Wassim Nasr, specialist in jihadist movements. “I think we can say now that they are free.”
“I think Sophie Pétronin took advantage of the deal that was made concerning the opponent Soumaïla Cissé. She was very ill. They wanted to release her, but also find their account”, specifies our journalist, referring to the release of more than a hundred jihadists last weekend.
Kidnapped in the middle of an election campaign
Soumaïla Cissé, former leader of the parliamentary opposition and second three times in the presidential election, had been kidnapped on March 25, while he was campaigning for the legislative elections in his electoral stronghold of Niafounké, in the region of Timbuktu, in north-western Mali.
He was traveling with a delegation of a dozen people in two 4x4s when the convoy was attacked by armed men. Soumaïla Cissé’s bodyguard had been killed and two other members of his entourage injured. Although detained, he had been elected in the first round of legislative elections.
Mali has seen a number of kidnappings since the start of the serious security crisis it has been going through since 2012, whether they are Malians or foreigners whom we have not heard from. Depending on the case, the kidnappings have different motivations. With Soumaïla Cissé, aged 70, this is the first time that an abduction has affected a figure of such stature. He was secretary general of the presidency, several times minister and unsuccessful candidate in the second round of the presidential election in 2018 again. He held senior positions at the West African Economic and Monetary Union (Uemoa).