Thursday, June 20, 2019

Ivory Coast mutiny: Shooting in Abidjan and Bouaké

Heavy gunfire has erupted in Ivory Coast’s two biggest cities, as a mutiny in the army enters its fourth day.

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

Troops loyal to the government are heading for the second city, Bouaké, where shooting has also been heard.

Armed forces’ chief of staff General Sékou Touré has vowed to end the mutiny, triggered by a pay dispute.

In a statement on Sunday, Gen Touré said that many of the mutinous soldiers had listened to earlier calls for them to stand down.

But the operation had been launched because some soldiers were continuing to disobey orders, he added.

The mutineers have vowed to fight back, if loyalist troops intervene.

Gunfire has been heard at the Akouédo barracks, in a suburb where many middle-class Ivorians and expats live, the BBC’s Tamasin Ford in Abidjan says

The government is running short of money because of plummeting cocoa prices, making it difficult for it to meet the demands of the mutineers, our reporter adds.

This has raised fears of a resurgence of the violence seen during Ivory Coast’s 10-year civil war, which ended in 2011.

Many of the mutineers in January are former rebels who joined the army after the conflict.

They had helped President Alassane Ouattara take office in 2010 after his predecessor Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat in elections.

They first launched a munity in January and forced the government to pay them about $8,000 (£6,200) each in bonuses which they said was owed to them.

They were due to receive a further payment this month and several thousands mutineers were unhappy they were not consulted when on Thursday, a spokesman for the group said they would drop their demands for the remaining money.

The government has said it will not negotiate with the disgruntled soldiers.
Ivory Coast is the world’s biggest cocoa producer, and it is the West African state’s main foreign currency earner.



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