A mutiny broke out in the Ivory Coast on January 6th of this year. The mutineers, mostly ex-New Forces rebels who had been integrated into the armed forces in 2011, were motivated by grievances about their pay and living conditions. Seizing control of nine cities throughout the country, they pressured the government to accept their demands, whereupon the mutiny was presumed to have peacefully ended.
Reports have it that the revolt began around 2 a.m. on 6 January, when demobilised soldiers in Bouaké, who demanded higher salaries and the payment of bonuses, seized weapons and ammunition at the local military base and police stations. They were soon joined by other, still active soldiers, who had served during ECOWAS mission in Liberia but claimed to not have been paid for taking part in these operations. After some firefights, the mutineers secured Bouaké, blockaded the city’s entrances and told the local civilians to stay indoors. No further violence took place at Bouaké, though the mutiny quickly spread to other cities.
Another revolt began again in Bouake early on Friday 13th May 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.
Mutinous soldiers in Ivory Coast shot three people on Saturday 14th and cut off access to the second largest city, Bouake, as the revolt escalated over demands for more bonus payments.
Mutineers seized control of the national military headquarters and defence ministry in the centre of the commercial capital, Abidjan, on Friday.
Reuters reported that they stepped up the pressure on Saturday, blocking roads out of Bouake, the epicenter of January’s uprising, and protesting around the country, including the northern city of Korhogo, where two men on a motorcycle were shot in the leg as they tried to get through a roadblock manned by the mutineers.
The recent uprising started after the government reportedly failed to pay the added bonus to the soldiers following the January mutiny. The Ivorian government struggled to disburse the money following a budget crunch caused by the collapse in the price of cocoa, Ivory Coast’s main export.
On Friday 13th May, Sergeant Seydou Kone, a spokesman for the mutineers, said the ex-fighters, who went through a disarmament program following the country’s 2011 civil war, were planning their own protest, as they did early this week, and his men had opened fire to stop them.
“We do not want to negotiate with anyone,” said Kone by phone from Bouake in the centre of the country. “We’re also ready to fight if we are attacked. We have nothing to lose.” However, the Ivorian army’s chief of staff, General Sekou Toure, threatened the soldiers with severe sanctions if they did not end the revolt.
The soldiers are demanding for additional 7 million Francs as opposed to the bonuses paid to about 8,400 former soldiers to help resolve the January mutiny.
The African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have expressed concerns over the tense security atmosphere in the Ivory Coast.
Leaders of both political blocs, however, called on the aggrieved soldiers to resort to negotiations to peacefully resolve the impasse. ECOWAS leader and Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, called for immediate cessation of shooting which she said threatened civilian lives.
Howbeit the government on Tuesday 16th May called for further deliberations with the mutineers and Reuters reported that an agreement has been reached by the Ivorian government and the mutineer troops.
The leaders of a nationwide military mutiny accepted the government’s proposal on bonus payments and have agreed to return to barracks and end their revolt, two spokesmen told reporters in the city of Bouake on Tuesday 16th.
The spokesmen said the deal included an immediate additional bonus payment of 5 million CFA francs ($8,400) for the 8,400 mutineers and a further payment of 2 million CFA francs at the end of June.
The soldiers had earlier rejected a proposed deal on Monday 15th just minutes after the defence minister announced on state-owned television that an agreement had been reached.
During the period of mutiny in the country, more than 200 commercial trucks were stranded on the roadside after the mutinous soldiers had sealed off the southern entrance to Bouake and Ivory Coast being one of the world’s largest producers of cocoa climbed to a five-week high strain due to the unrest as businesses in the sector closed.