Six months after her kidnapping, Soumaïla Cissé regains her freedom

The president of the URD and leader of the Malian opposition, Soumaïla Cissé, was released on Thursday, October 8, 2020. He has been in captivity since his March 25 kidnapping in northern Mali while in the countryside for the legislative elections.

He was in the middle of an election campaign near Niafunké, in the Timbuktu region, his stronghold. Four days before the legislative election, Soumaïla Cissé and her delegation, about ten people, left Saraféré for Koumaïra, but they never made it. Armed men attack the delegation, shoots … Soumaïla Cissés bodyguard is killed.

Soumaïla Cisse and the rest of his delegation is separated. Released, gradually – perhaps because they were of lesser value or because they were too many -, Soumaïla Cissé’s companions testify: other Malian civilian hostages are being held in the same camp, but no contact has been made. ‘is allowed. No abuse, water, food and a daily life marked by prayers. The attack has not been claimed, but people released explain that their detainees claimed to be al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Another witness said Soumaïla Cissé would be regularly tied to a tree and that he would have difficulty walking.

His release, a political issue

The months go by. The release of the Malian opposition leader was a national issue, it is becoming a political issue. Conventions take place to demand release. The appeals are directed at his prisoners or even at the now-dismissed president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta: rumors questioning the responsibility of the Malian state are even beginning to circulate.

But from the start, the government set up a crisis unit led by former Prime Minister Ousmane Issoufi Maiga. There are also the URD, Soumaïla Cissé’s party, and many individual initiatives, such as the initiative of Imam Mahmoud Dico: discussions with the kidnappers or with mediators have started.

In mid-June, President IBK assures us that Soumaïla Cissé is alive, that his captors are identified, and that “if it pleases God, he will return soon.” In late August, the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) sends her family letters from Soumaïla Cissé, written a month earlier.

Since the takeover of the CNSP’s military junta on August 18, nothing has filtered through the progress of the negotiations with the kidnappers. Nothing until the result.

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