Martes, 14 Agosto, 2018

Military unrest, gunfire paralyze city areas in Ivory Coast

Galeno Paniagua | 15 May, 2017, 21:45

Similar incidents were observed in Bouake, where rebellious troops reportedly sealed off the entire city. On Sunday, he had called on them to disarm, and said those who continue to threaten civilians and defy authorities will face disciplinary action.

- Counter operation under way?

A handful of civil servants could be seen hiding behind walls, watching the situation as the soldiers let off sporadic rattles of gunfire to keep the curious at bay.

The soldiers, a lot of them ex-rebel fighters who helped bring President Alassane Ouattara to power, erected improvised barricades around the national military headquarters and the Defense Ministry, sealing off part of downtown Abidjan.

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Most are former rebels who integrated into the regular army after a short-lived uprising in January.

The mutineers blocked roads outside a barracks in an affluent neighbourhood of Abidjan, the commercial capital, a BBC reporter in the city says.

NAN reports that in a statement on state television late on Friday, Sekou Toure, army general and chief of staff, threatened the soldiers with severe sanctions if they did not end the revolt.

The mutineers often fire in the air to express their anger over the non-payment of bonuses.

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The National Security Council, comprised of President Ouattara, the defense and interior ministers and the security forces' leadership, meanwhile held an emergency meeting, a defense ministry source said.

But the government has struggled to pay the soldiers the promised money, while the non-military ex-fighters are now demanding their own government payments. The standoff was sparked by an announcement by President Alassane Ouattara on Thursday that the government had reached a compromise with troops that organized a rebellion over unpaid bonuses in January.

The world's top cocoa producer and former star French colony has since been slowly regaining its credentials as a West African powerhouse and a haven of peace and prosperity.

But falling cocoa prices have severely crimped the government's finances.

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Ouattara also said that disgruntled soldiers who led a mutiny over pay in January, paralyzing several cities throughout the country, have given up all their financial demands. "We want our money", a soldier wearing a facemask said in Bouake on Saturday, refusing to give his name.

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