Mutiny in Ivory Coast


Johannesburg Heavy gunfire erupted in Ivory Coast's two main cities, Abidjan and Bouaké, as troops loyal to the president attempted to suppress a fresh mutiny by other soldiers.

I heard the shooting.

As loyalist soldiers advanced on Bouake on Sunday, the Military Chief of Staff General Sekou Toure issued a statement announcing the new offensive.

The revolt began in Bouake early on Friday before spreading quickly, following a similar pattern to a mutiny by the same group in January that paralysed parts of Ivory Coast and marred its image as a post-war success story.

Last month, the government revised its 2017 budget as it faces lower income from cocoa, its main export crop, limiting its ability to pay soldiers.

The government has said it will not negotiate with the disgruntled soldiers.

As NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports, the friction dates back to January, when the former rebel soldiers who helped propel Ouattara to power in 2011 mutinied over their delayed back pay.

Major cities across Ivory Coast awoke to the clatter of gunfire Monday.

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Gunfire was heard in the commercial capital, Abidjan, even after Donwahi made his announcement that a deal was found, resident Elizabeth West said by phone.

Reuters quoted a Bouake resident as saying: "There was heavy shooting at the northern entrance to the city and in the city centre". One man, a demobilized former rebel fighter, died on Sunday.

"They proposed 5m CFA francs [$8,360] to be paid tomorrow [to each soldier]".

On Sunday, the group's leaders rejected the army's demand that they disarm and surrender.

But it remains divided and a wave of mutinies that began earlier this year has exposed the lack of unity in a military assembled from former rebel and loyalist combatants.

The city also served as the rebel headquarters after a failed 2002 coup which split Ivory Coast in half and led to years of unrest.

The 8,400 mutineers, majority former rebels who said they were promised bonuses for fighting to bring Ouattara to power, received 5 million CFA francs ($8,400) each to end the January uprising.

The city's inhabitants marched against the soldiers' insurgency, however, six people were wounded and one was reported to have been killed during the demonstration when the mutineers opened fire on protesters. "But we want 7 million to be paid in one payment and immediately", Sergeant Seydou Kone, one of the spokesmen, told Reuters.