Ivory Coast to re­tire 1,000 sol­diers to slim down mil­i­tary

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - World -

IVORY Coast will cut its armed forces by about 1,000 troops by the end of the year, the gov­ern­ment spokesman said on Wed­nes­day, in a bid to ra­tio­nalise a costly and some­times un­ruly mil­i­tary.

Gov­ern­ment spokesman Bruno Kone told re­porters af­ter a cabi­net meet­ing that the 997 sol­diers had ac­cepted vol­un­tary re­tire­ment this year as part of an ini­tia­tive to con­form to “ac­cepted stan­dards”, partly by re­duc­ing the ra­tio of non-com­mis­sioned of­fi­cers to lower ranks.

Ivory Coast does not give de­tails on the size of its mil­i­tary, but se­cu­rity sources es­ti­mate there are more than 25,000 troops in a coun­try with a pop­u­la­tion of about 24 mil­lion.

Fran­co­phone West Africa’s big­gest econ­omy suf­fered two army mu­tinies this year that dam­aged its rep­u­ta­tion among in­vestors and forced the gov­ern­ment to agree to costly pay rises.

“The dis­tri­bu­tion of Ivory Coast’s army is out of step with the stan­dards ac­cepted in mod­ern armies,” Kone said.

The for­mer French colony, once known as one of the most sta­ble states in West Africa, is still re­cov­er­ing from a brief civil war fought af­ter Pres­i­dent Alas­sane Ou­at­tara won a dis­puted elec­tion in 2010 but in­cum­bent Lau­rent Gbagbo re­fused to step down.

Ou­at­tara has strug­gled to as­sert his author­ity over the army, which was cob­bled to­gether in an un­easy merger of the north­ern New Forces rebels who sup­ported him and the pro­fes­sional troops who had fought against him.

The sol­diers be­ing taken out of ac­tion in­cluded three se­nior of­fi­cers, 634 non-com­mis­sioned of­fi­cers and 354 reg­u­lar foot sol­diers, Kone said.

– Reuters

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