Ivory Coast government reaches deal to end army mutiny

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara confirms his government has reached an agreement with soldiers to end a two-day mutiny.

BOUAKE, IVORY COAST (JANUARY 7, 2017) (REUTERS) – Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said on Saturday (January 7) that the government had reached an agreement with disgruntled soldiers to end a two-day revolt that had spread unrest across the West African nation.

The uprising began early on Friday (January 6) when the soldiers – mainly former rebel fighters – demanding wage increases and bonuses – seized Bouake, the second-largest city. Over the next two days, soldiers at military camps in cities and towns including the commercial capital, Abidjan, joined the mutiny.

Earlier on Saturday, Defence Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi appeared to have brokered a deal to end the revolt, and Ouattara said he had agreed to take into account the soldiers grievances concerning bonus payments and living and working conditions.

“I would like to repeat that this way of making demands is not appropriate. Indeed it tarnishes the image of our country after all our efforts in economic development and diplomatic re-positioning,” he said.

However late on Saturday, mutinying soldiers in Bouake opened fire on a local officials house, according to a Reuters witness, and Donwahi was trapped inside by the shooting unable to head back to Abidjan.

Ivory Coast – French-speaking West Africa’s largest economy – has emerged from a 2002-11 political crisis as one of the continent’s rising economic stars.

However, years of conflict and a failure to reform its army, thrown together from a patchwork of former rebel fighters and government soldiers, have left it with an unruly force hobbled by internal divisions.

The revolt came two years after hundreds of soldiers barricaded roads in cities across Ivory Coast demanding back pay in a near identical uprising.

Then too the government agreed a deal that included amnesty from punishment and a financial settlement for the mutineers.