Ivory Coast Vows to Bring Military Unrest Under Control

Ivory Coast Vows to Bring Military Unrest Under ControlIvory Coast Vows to Bring Military Unrest Under Control

Ivory Coast’s government vowed to rIvory Coast’s government vowed to rein in soldiers that fired in the air in several cities ein in soldiers that fired in the air in several cities across the West African nation on Friday to protest measures announced by President Alassane Ouattara a day earlier that are meant to end a pay dispute.

“There are some soldiers who are unhappy with the measures that we’ve decided on,” Defense Minister Alain Donwahi said by phone from the commercial capital, Abidjan, Bloomberg reported.

“They have the right to be unhappy but they don’t have to right to do whatever they want. There’s nothing to negotiate.”

Gunfire erupted in Abidjan and at least five other cities following a speech by Ouattara on state TV late Thursday in which he said the government had reached a settlement with troops that organized a mutiny in January. The mutiny was the worst outbreak of violence since Ouattara assumed office in 2011.

Soldiers fired in the air near military headquarters in Abidjan and in Bouake where the nationwide mutiny started. Residents reported hearing sporadic gunfire in Korhogo and Man, while the French Consulate said in an email that Odienne and Guiglo were also affected.

Shops and business in Bouake closed while workers in downtown Abidjan left their offices and ran away when the gunfire erupted.

Troops of the Republican Guard and gendarmerie armored vehicles were deployed in the neighborhood near the Abidjan barracks while mutinous soldiers lifted barricades as calm returned in the afternoon.

The gunfire also ended in Man and Bouake while sporadic shots were still heard late afternoon in a Korhogo military camp, residents said.

Ivory Coast’s government managed to defuse the January unrest by pledging to pay bonuses worth $19,740 per soldier.

The government was then forced to revise the budget for this year because it faced lower income from cocoa, its main export crop.

The mutiny was followed by a two-week strike by civil servants demanding higher pay and arrears, adding to the government’s financial woes.

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