Ivory Coast reaches deal with mutinous soldiers: Defense chief
Ivory Coast says a deal has been reached with the renegade soldiers to end their mutiny days after they took to the streets in major cities across the African state in protest at their unpaid bonuses.
In a Tuesday statement, Defense Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi urged the mutinous soldiers “to free up the roads, to go back to their barracks and to keep the peace.”
A spokesman from the army soldiers confirmed the deal and said it included an immediate bonus payment of 5 million CFA francs ($8,400) for the 8,400 mutineers as well as a further payment of 2 million CFA francs at the end of June.
“We accept the government’s proposal … We are returning to barracks now,” said Sergeant Seydou Kone, one of the revolt’s leaders.
“We’ve just handed back control of the entrances to the city to the police and gendarmes this morning, and we’re returning to our barracks,” said Sergeant Cisse, another spokesman for the group, referring to Bouake.
The news of the agreement comes shortly after the mutinous soldiers denied the government’s claim about reaching an agreement late on Monday.
Government representatives began talks with the soldiers on Saturday.
Thousands of disgruntled soldiers started their mutiny on May 12 over a pay dispute, leaving their barracks and blocking access to the country’s second largest city of Bouake.
The revolt over unpaid bonuses has paralyzed cities and towns across the West African nation.
On Monday, gunfights erupted in cities of Abidjan and Bouake. The mutineers seized control of the national military headquarters and the Defense Ministry before being driven back by loyalist forces.
Heavy shooting was also heard in Daloa, a hub for the western cocoa growing regions of the country.
Earlier on Sunday, the mutineers shot and wounded five people in Bouake to break up a march against them.
The fresh mutiny comes after the government promised in January to pay 12 million CFA francs (18,000 Euros) each to rebellious soldiers in Bouake. Soldiers are reportedly angry at the government’s inability to reimburse the last installment of the payment this month, which was about seven million francs.