Gunshots in Ivory Coast cities gripped by mutiny
ABIDJAN: Gunshots rang out early yesterday in the Ivory Coast cities of Abidjan and Bouake amid a four-day-old mutiny by exrebel soldiers demanding government bonuses.
In the economic capital of Abidjan, gunfire was heard at two military camps in Akouedo in the east of the city, which together, form the country’s largest military barracks, a resident said.
Sustained gunfire also rang out in the second-largest city of Bouake, where one person died on Sunday from bullet wounds.
Access roads into Akouedo were closed, preventing residents from the east of Abidjan from entering the city.
Shots were also heard from the Gallieni camp in the city centre.
Mutinous former rebels often fire in the air to express anger over the non-payment of bonuses by the government, an issue which sparked the mutiny in Bouake on Friday.
The African Development Bank advised its employees here to stay at home as “the security situation was unclear at the moment”.
The armed forces chief of staff, General Sekou Toure, said on Sunday that “a military operation is underway to re-establish order” and made a televised appeal to the disgruntled soldiers to return to barracks.
Under a deal negotiated with the government in January after a mutiny by ex-rebels, they were to be paid bonuses of 12 million CFA francs (RM85,426) each, with an initial payment of five million francs that month. The remainder was to be paid starting this month. But the government has struggled to pay the soldiers the promised money.
“We want the money, that’s all! There’s nothing to discuss,” said one of them.
Bouake was the epicentre of the January mutiny, which triggered months of unrest.
The city served as rebel headquarters after a failed 2002 coup which split Ivory Coast in half and led to years of unrest. AFP
Soldiers firing in the air inside a military camp in Bouake, the Ivory Coast, yesterday.