Four days after the release of Sophie Pétronin, Soumaila Cissé and the two Italian hostages, the gray areas are still numerous. France assures it in any case: its role in this affair was only secondary.
“The operation was carried out by the Malians, the terms of the negotiations were not carried out by France”. This is the message conveyed by the Elysée while the conditions for the release of Sophie Pétronin raise questions.
If the two countries’ external services have worked together, it is Bamako who has kept control in this file, explains the entourage from the head of state. The latter thus assures us that Paris has not paid any ransom. “The list of counterparts has not been discussed with us,” Elysee adds, referring to jihadists released by the Malian authorities. What reaction to these releases? “There is a price for every release,” a counselor loses, fatalistically.
The presidential palace also specifies that France has at no time intervened to promote an intermediary, contrary to what the Media Party said on Sunday. The French side explained in the same article that Paris would have delayed release of Soumaïla Cisséby demanding that he be released at the same time as Sophie Pétronin.
“False,” Elysee replies. If negotiations had started before the putsch, “the terms of trade were not changed” after the coup, we are sure. The only development according to the French president’s companion: “a remarkable acceleration” of the new authorities on this hostage. The latter, according to the Elysee, had the “will” to achieve “a result.”
Emmanuel Macron called Bah N’Daw, the president of the Malian transition, on Friday to thank him for the release of Sophie Pétronin. During this first telephone interview, the two men also discussed the operational and political aspects of the fight against terrorism. Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, is due to travel to Bamako before the end of October to meet with the new authorities in the country.