Ivory Coast Unrest Continues as Rebel Soldiers Snub Warning

  • Residents hear gunfire in several towns, roads blocked
  • Army chief promises severe sanctions against rebellion

A military revolt in Ivory Coast over pay continued for a second day as soldiers fired in the air and blocked access roads to cities, ignoring warnings that their rebellion will be severely punished.

The West African nation’s second-biggest city of Bouake was “paralyzed” as soldiers blocked the town’s two access roads after firing shots from the military camp, resident Siriki Kone said by phone. Soldiers also put up roadblocks in western Daloa early in the morning, but the barricades were lifted later on and normal traffic flow resumed, Bakayoko Moussa, a resident who works in the mayor’s office, said by phone.

In the northern city of Korhogo, two civilians were wounded by stray bullets, news service PolitikAfrique reported on its website, citing an eyewitness. Two people were injured in Man in the west, according to state broadcaster RTI.

A woman walks past Ivorian soldiers patrolling by army headquarters on May 12.

Photographer: Issouf Sanogo/AFP via Getty Images

The unrest follows a day of rebellion in the commercial capital, Abidjan, and at least five other cities following a speech by President Alassane Ouattara on Thursday in which he said the government had reached a settlement with troops that organized a mutiny in January.

Back then, the situation was defused when the government pledged to pay bonuses worth 12 million CFA francs ($19,875) to soldiers who backed Ouattara during a six-month crisis after former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept an election defeat in 2010. Many soldiers have so far obtained 5 million francs. Last month, the government revised the budget for this year because it’s faced with lower income from cocoa, its main export crop.

Economic Difficulties

Soldiers agreed to the new deal because they understood the economic difficulties that the country is facing, Army Chief of Staff Sekou Toure said Friday night on state television.

“Unfortunately some of them distanced themselves from their comrades,” Toure said. “Any soldier engaging in wrongdoing will be subject to severe sanctions.”

The government won’t engage in further talks with soldiers about their demands, Defense Minister Alain Donwahi said on Friday.

“There’s nothing to negotiate,” Donwahi said by phone. “There’s a problem and we’re dealing with it. We’ll restore order.”

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