Ivory Coast Soldiers End Mutiny as Government Pledges Payout

Updated on
  • Soldiers to get $11,700 in bonuses after four-day revolt
  • Defense minister announced Monday accord has been reached

Soldiers in Ivory Coast said they halted their protest after the government agreed to pay them bonuses, ending a four-day mutiny that paralyzed several cities and left two people dead.

The government will pay each soldier 5 million CFA francs ($8,374) before the end of the week and another 2 million francs at a later date, soldier Tahirou Diarrrassouba said by phone on Tuesday from the second-biggest city and center of the mutiny, Bouake. Troops in other cities that joined the mutiny have also agreed to end the standoff, said Fousseni Cisse, another soldier in Bouake.

A police officer gestures near mutinous soldiers in Bouake, May 16.

Photographer: Issouf Sanogo/AFP via Getty Images

“We’ve found an agreement with the government, the corridors are open again,” Cisse said. “I think it’s going to be fine this time. We’ve been heard.”

The general staff of the armed forces and soldiers made a pact after two days of talks, Defense Minister Alain Donwahi said late Monday in a broadcast on state television, RTI, without specifying the details of the agreement.

The standoff in the world’s biggest cocoa producer was sparked by an announcement last week by President Alassane Ouattara that a compromise had been reached with troops who staged a mutiny in January over unpaid bonuses. Ouattara said the soldiers had dropped all their financial demands. The soldiers were promised 12 million CFA francs ($19,936) for backing Ouattara after former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept an election defeat in 2010, but they’ve received less than half of the cash.

The new agreement “is definitive and is being executed,” Donwahi told reporters Tuesday in the commercial capital, Abidjan. The unrest caused two deaths while nine people were injured, he said.

“The military has disrupted the lives of Ivorian people and disrupted the economy,” Donwahi said Tuesday. Still, “the situation has returned to normal.”

Yield Falls

The yield on Ivory Coast’s 2032 Eurobond fell 20 basis points, the most since Jan. 5, to 6.4 percent at 5:33 p.m. in Abidjan.

The payout will cost the government about 60 billion CFA francs, or the equivalent of 1.5 percent of revenues, Charlotte King, an analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit, said in an emailed response to questions.

The amount “can probably be absorbed this year by making further cuts to capital spending,” King said. “There is of course no guarantee that this will be the only pay-out that the government has to make. The deal will spur other groups, from cocoa farmers to civil service, to push for their own concessions.”

Calm Returns

Residents in cities said calm returned after four days of disruptions.

“The soldiers lifted the roadblocks and we’re not seeing them on the road,” Serge Touho, who lives near the key military base of Akouedo in Abidjan, said on Tuesday. “Traffic is resuming.”

Shots were fired at 6:30 a.m. in the western port city of San Pedro, said Felix Anoble, a lawmaker for the western port city of San Pedro. “We expect a quiet day,” he said.

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 country also trimmed its growth forecast for this year to 8.5 percent from 8.9 percent. Cocoa futures fell to the lowest in more than four years earlier this month, reaching 1,390 pounds ($1,795) a metric ton in London on May. They’ve since climbed 12 percent to 1,582 pounds a ton.

(Updates with number of deaths in first paragraph.)
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