Friday 20 April 2018

2017: Ivory Coast's year of the mutiny

2017: Ivory Coast's year of the mutiny
(AFP 05/15/17)

Ivory Coast, which is recovering from more than a decade of conflict, has since January been in the grip of a series of revolts by disgruntled solders and paramilitary gendarmes.

Here is an outline of the main developments:

- Rebellion erupts in Bouake -

On January 6, 2017, former rebels integrated into the army's ranks seize control of Ivory Coast's second city Bouake, terrifying residents by firing in the air with rifles and rocket launchers.

Defence Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi urges troops "to remain calm and return to their barracks" saying the soldiers are demanding salary hikes, bonuses and faster promotion.

A day later, troops fire Kalashnikov rifles and heavy weapons outside the local government offices in Bouake, with the unrest spreading to Abidjan, the economic capital, and several other towns.

Shots ring out at a military base in Abidjan as soldiers put up barricades in the city.

President Alassane Ouattara says the government and the mutineers have reached an arrangement, confirming his "agreement to take into account the (soldiers') demands relating to bonuses and improving the living conditions."

A day later, the soldiers end their mutiny, with Ouattara quickly firing the military chief of staff, the senior commander of the national gendarmerie and the director-general of the police.

On January 13, they reach a final deal at talks in Bouake, on a tense day involving outbreaks of gunfire at barracks across the country.

- Bloodshed in the capital -

On January 17, four soldiers are killed in the administrative capital Yamoussoukro as new protests erupt, led by troops and paramilitary gendarmes who were not part of the deal.

The unrest sees them firing shots in the air in six towns and cities, with the protest continuing into the next day and drawing in prison guards and customs officers.

- Elite unit mutiny -

On February 7, elite troops responsible for Ouattara's security also stage armed protests demanding bonuses and firing into the air in their barracks town of Adiake, 90 kilometres (56 miles) east of Abidjan. They end their protests two days later.

- Apology sparks fresh protests -

On May 11, a spokesman allegedly representing the 8,400 troops who mutinied in January apologises to Ouattara in an orchestrated ceremony aired on national television.

But within hours fresh protests erupt with troops demanding the balance of payment for bonuses which were partially paid in January. Demonstrators fire in the air in the streets of Abidjan, Bouake and Korogho.

Two days later, one person is killed in Bouake after being hit by warning shots which were supposed to keep residents inside their homes.

Further gunfire erupts in Abidjan on May 15, including at two military camps in Akouedo in the city's east as well as in Bouake.

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