Seemingly resolute mutinous soldiers with weapons in the streets of Bouake, on Sunday
Gunfire and continued threats by mutinous soldiers in several cities in Ivory Coast led banks, schools and businesses to close Monday amid fears of fighting.
Former rebels who joined the army and demand bonuses shot gunfire into the air, taking over strategic parts of Yamoussoukro, San-Pedro, Bouake and Abidjan.
On sunday, the mutinous soldiers killed one person and injured several others after using gunfire to disperse a march Sunday against their mutiny in Bouake, residents said.
Violence was started by some of the soldiers involved in a January mutiny demanding higher pay began Friday, a day after Ivorian television broadcast some of the mutinous soldiers meeting with President Alassane Ouattara and dropping their demand for unpaid bonuses.
Mutinous soldier poses with weapon at road block in the streets of Bouake, May 14, 2017
Residents were forced to flee or stay indoors because of the violence.
The army chief of staff said a military operation was in progress to combat the mutinous soldiers, specifically in their stronghold Bouake. On Sunday, he had called on them to disarm, and said those who continue to threaten civilians and defy authorities will face disciplinary action.
Back in January, 2017 the section of former rebels absorbed into the country’s army had mutinied in search of more pay and benefits
Violence by some of the soldiers involved in a January mutiny demanding higher pay began a day after Ivorian television broadcast their colleagues meeting with the president and dropping their demand for bonuses that have yet to be paid.
One person was killed Sunday when the mutinous soldiers used guns to disperse residents protesting their violence in Bouake. Locals had been forced to flee or stay indoors because of the violence.
The mutinous soldiers are former rebels who helped the newly elected President Alassane Ouattara, to power in 2010, after his predecessor refused to leave office after losing the election.
Their demands, apparently including a call for $8,000 base, five times annual GDP per head in the country, date back to promises allegedly made during that conflict, which started when Laurent Gbagbo, the previous president, refused to leave office after losing an election in 2010. For most of the decade before then, Ivory Coast was embroiled in a longer civil war and divided into two parts: a rebel-held, mostly Muslim north, and the government-held more Christian coast.
They were integrated into the army and represent about 8,400 soldiers of the more than 20,000 man Ivory Coast’s army.
The January mutiny led to an agreement to pay them bonuses, but they haven’t yet received the full settlements.
Observers say president Ouattara, an American-educated economist who cfinally took office in 2011, has made excellent strides in revitalizing the economy with an estimated average rate of 8.5% per year growth in GDP between 2012 and 2015. He has prioritised infrastructure investment and attracting money into the country, still much of the country’s recent rapid growth has involved catching up after that lost decade of strife.
It is also notable that soldiers are not the only people to feel aggrieved as teachers and civil servants have also gone on strike tn the recent past.
A significant percentage of the Ivorians feel they’ve been exluded in the vaunted economic boom. Some political observers suspect that the intermitent mutinys by different sections of the army since 2014, were actually incited by politicians who want to make sure that they are included as stake holders in the new government order.