Gun­shots in Ivory Coast cities gripped by mutiny

New Straits Times - - World -

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

AFP PIC

Sol­diers fir­ing in the air in­side a mil­i­tary camp in Bouake, the Ivory Coast, yes­ter­day.

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