Sunday, 28 May, 2017

Military unrest, gunfire paralyze city areas in Ivory Coast

Rebel soldiers block access Rebel soldiers block access
Lora Hunt | 19 May, 2017, 19:39

Ivory Coast's government announced it reached an agreement with soldiers to end a four-day mutiny over pay that disrupted cities across the nation, even though some troops said they were unaware of a deal and would continue with their revolt.

The unrest comes as authorities conduct a military operation "to re-establish order" after soldiers who staged a mutiny on Friday over bonus payments rejected he army's demand to disarm. In the country's commercial center and in several cocoa-producing hubs, disgruntled soldiers broke out weapons and blocked thoroughfares to protest stalled bonus payments and what they view as broken promises from President Alassane Ouattara.

A spokesman for the soldiers, speaking from Bouake, told VOA that soldiers are not attempting a coup.

As NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports, the friction dates back to January, when the former rebel soldiers who helped propel Ouattara to power in 2011 mutinied over their delayed back pay. "It's calmed a bit but we're still hearing gunfire".

A spokesman for the mutiny denied that any clashes had occurred in Bouake and said the renegade soldiers were firing in the air to dissuade any advance on the city.

Early on Monday, heavy gunfire was heard at two military camps in Akouedo in the east of the economic capital, Abidjan, which together form the country's largest military barracks, a resident living nearby said. One man, a demobilised former rebel fighter, died on Sunday.

The mutineers, a lot of them former rebel fighters who fought to bring President Alassane Ouattara to power, have sealed off Ivory Coast's second-largest city, Bouake, and used gunfire to break up protests against the revolt. "But we want 7 million to be paid in one payment and immediately", said Sergeant Seydou Kone.

Data from Tradeweb showed that Ivory Coast dollar bonds maturing in 2024 fell 0.8 cents in price to a three-week low while the 2028 issue lost 1.2 cents to hit its lowest level in 10 days due to the unrest.

On Sunday morning, the soldiers used gunfire to break up a march in Bouake's city centre, wounding six people.

Then in a surprise move on Thursday, a spokesman for the former rebels apologised on national television and agreed to drop their demands for the remaining money.

A spokesman for the group said on Thursday they had dropped demands for the remaining money, an announcement rejected by numerous soldiers who sparked the current revolt.

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