Wednesday 22 November 2017

Ivory Coast unrest spreads as officials seek end to mutiny

The government used payouts to appease soldiers after similar incidents in 2014 (Schalk van Zuydam/AP)
The government used payouts to appease soldiers after similar incidents in 2014 (Schalk van Zuydam/AP)

Heavy gunfire has erupted at a military camp in Ivory Coast's largest city Abidjan, witnesses said, in a sign that a mutiny could be escalating despite government efforts to bring it to a swift end.

Shooting also took place for a second day in Bouake, Ivory Coast's second-largest city, as well as in the western city of Man, witnesses said.

The US embassy advised staff to keep off roads and to stay near their homes, while France advised restricting travel to the country's interior and avoiding military camps in Abidjan.

The mutiny started in Bouake on Friday morning. The government said soldiers are demanding salary increases and a quicker promotion schedule.

Officials were expected to meet with soldiers in Bouake on Saturday, and a cabinet meeting was scheduled.

President Alassane Ouattara had travelled to Ghana for the inauguration of President Nana Akufo-Addo, but was due to return on Saturday evening.

The government used payouts to appease soldiers after similar incidents in 2014.

The unrest points to lingering security worries in Ivory Coast, which boasts Africa's fastest-growing economy and is eager to move past its history of conflict.

The gunfire on Saturday at the Akouedo camp, located in Abidjan's residential Cocody district, began at around 8am and lasted for about two hours, according to Louise Kouame, who lives nearby.

"It's calm for the moment, but we are more and more afraid," Ms Kouame said.

Security forces blocked off roads heading towards the camp.

In Man, civilians stayed indoors as mutinous soldiers cruised through the streets, resident Herve Singo said.

A similar scene played out in Bouake, where gunfire began at 3am and continued for several hours, taxi driver Moussa Fofana said.

Appearing on state television on Friday night, defence minister Alain-Richard Donwahi said officials were determined to end what he called a "deplorable" situation.

AP

Press Association

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