Ivory Coast Port Calm Again After Unrest Halts Cocoa Exports

  • Gendarmes fired shots, disrupted operations at Abidjan port
  • Four soldiers killed in earlier unrest, government says

Calm returned to Ivory Coast’s biggest port after disruptions caused by gendarmes halted cocoa shipments from the world’s largest producer of the beans.

Operations at the port in the commercial capital, Abidjan, normalized after the implementation of security measures to quell unrest during the second day of renewed upheavals among military personnel, the port authority said in an e-mailed statement on Wednesday.

Earlier on Wednesday, operations were “severely disrupted by armed men firing in the air along the port boulevard and at some port access roads,” the authority said in the statement. The security measures “remain to ensure a normal operation of the port’s activities.”

Cocoa shippers halted exports after gendarmes who usually guard entrances closed some gates and fired shots in the air, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because he is not allowed to speak publicly.

The disruptions came after gunfire was reported Tuesday in the vicinity of military camps near the capital, Yamoussoukro, and in five other towns, including the cocoa-growing centers of Daloa and Duekoue, according to the French consulate. Four soldiers were killed in the clashes, government spokesman Bruno Kone told reporters on Wednesday.

President Alassane Ouattara ordered military and police chiefs to identify the concerns of their staff and make sure the unrest stops, the government said on its Twitter account on Wednesday.

The violence erupted days after the government reached a deal with soldiers who led a two-day mutiny earlier this month over unpaid bonuses and better living conditions. It’s the second military revolt since Ouattara took office in 2011.

“The situation is worrying but Ivorians will need to trust us,” Security Minister Hamed Bakayoko told reporters on Wednesday. “The government will find a solution but we can’t do that when it’s a chaotic situation. There’s a process of contamination going on, it’s spreading to others units.”

Read more on Ivory Coast military unrest

Cocoa for March delivery rose 0.4 percent to 1,799 pounds ($1,921) a metric ton in London on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.

In the agreement reached with disgruntled soldiers last week, the government pledged to pay bonuses worth 12 million CFA francs ($19,478) per soldier, including 5 million francs this week, according to Nicolas Djibo, the mayor of Bouake, where the revolt started on Jan. 6.

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