Ivory Coast Mutiny Continues Despite Agreement; Defense Minister Briefly Held
01:26 08.01.2017(updated 08:54 08.01.2017) Get short URL
Within the past hour, the mutineers allowed the officials to leave, Reuters reports.
The mutiny, which started early January 6 in Bouake, spread to the commercial capital, Abidjan, and the cities of Daloa, Daoukro and Odienne, where troops took to the streets. In Abidjan, soldiers took over the city’s military headquarters, and shots could be heard around the defense ministry.
Soldiers are demanding better pay and improved living and working conditions.
Only a few hours ago, President Alassane Ouattara said he had reached an agreement with the soldiers over better pay and treatment, and Sergeant Mamadou Kone had told Reuters the uprising was over. “Some of our soldiers will remain in place to manage the security of shops and banks, but the majority of soldiers will return to barracks beginning tonight.”
However, Ouattara criticized the mutineers. “I would like to say that this manner of making demands is not appropriate. It tarnishes the image of our country after all our efforts to revive the economy,” Ouattara said.
The deal was apparently not specific enough for some, which may have led to the standoff in Bouake. Reuters reports that a crowd of angry soldiers gathered around the sub-prefect’s house in Bouake where Defense Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi, the deputy commander of the elite Republican Guard, the mayor of the city and other local officials and journalists were meeting. Donwahi had traveled to the city to meet with the disgruntled troops.
Some soldiers outside the home were heard yelling that they wanted their bonuses to be paid right away, not at some future date.
“The president must tell us the date we will be paid and the amount we will be given,” a soldier said, Al Jazeera reported. The soldiers are reportedly seeking bonuses of $8,000 and a house each, the Independent reports, citing an Ivory Coast member of parliament.
The Independent reports that gunshots were heard January 6 at a military base in Akouedo, on Abidjan’s eastern edge, where troops thought to be loyal the president are housed, and troop protests were seen in the cities of Man, Daloa, Daoukro, Odienne and Korhogo.
Ivory Coast’s 10-year civil war ended in 2011 — aided by rebel soldiers who helped bring Ouattara to power when his predecessor refused to accept his election loss. Many of those former rebels are thought to be among the mutineers.