Heavy fighting in Ivory Coast's two main cities

Cheryl Sanders
May 29, 2017

Under a deal negotiated with the government in January, struck after the ex-rebel soldiers' first mutiny, they were to be paid bonuses of 12 million CFA francs (18,000 euros) each, with an initial payment of five million francs that month. "We won't lay down arms", he said, speaking on condition of anonymity from the city where the protest movement began earlier this year. Shooting was also reported in Bouake, erstwhile headquarters of the rebellion in Ivory Coast.

"The population rose up, but the mutineers quickly dispersed the march with shots", said Bouake resident Simon Guede.

The soldiers posted at the four main access points to Bouake have also been extorting money from drivers hoping to cross the city, according to AFP news agency.

Mutinies in the Ivorian army, which brought Ivory Coast to a standstill in January, subsided after the government agreed to pay CFA12m (£15,726, $20,316.) each to 8,400 army officers, effectively giving in to soldiers' demands over back pay and bonuses.

"There was heavy shooting at the northern entrance to the city and in the city centre".

Ivory Coast's defence minister and government spokesman could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

Army chief of staff General Sekou Toure sent troops to Bouake and Abidjan over the weekend, threatening renegade soldiers with severe sanctions if they did not end the revolt. It was not immediately clear what impact the unrest might have on the flow of cocoa supplies.

Eyewitnesses say sporadic gunfire was heard overnight as well as heavy shooting in Daloa, a hub for the western cocoa growing regions. Ivory Coast is the world's leading cocoa producer and the plummeting cocoa prices have hit them hard. "The banks are closed and so are the cocoa buying businesses", a local businessman said.

The Abidjan-based African Development Bank [AFDB.UL], which employs several thousand people, told its employees to stay home.

Early on Monday, heavy gunfire was heard at two military camps in Akouedo in the east of Abidjan, which together form the country's largest military barracks, a resident living nearby said.

One person was killed on Sunday when the mutinous soldiers used guns to disperse residents protesting their violence in Bouake.

Other reports by iNewsToday