Security Advisory Update – Cote d’Ivoire (9 January 2017)January 9, 2017 in Ivory Coast
As of 8 January, roadblocks in the country’s main cities have been lifted and protests by disgruntled soldiers have ceased. The situation across the Cote d’Ivoire has returned to normal following the conclusion of negotiations between the government and soldiers.
MS Risk advises all travellers to the country to remain vigilant as tensions may flare up again over the coming days and weeks if an agreement reached between the soldiers and the government is not implemented quickly. We advise anyone in the country to monitor the local media and to avoid any protests and large gatherings, as they may turn violent with minimal notice.
On 6 January 2017, a group of demobilized soldiers attacked three police stations and a petrol station in the town of Bouake, the second largest city, seizing weapons from the police. Throughout the day, there were reports of sporadic gunfire and access routes to the north and south of Bouake were blocked. There were also reports of shots being fired in Daloa, and a heightened military presence reported in Korhogo, with concerns that the violence was spreading to the remainder of the county. Over the next two days, soldiers at military camps and cities across the country joined the mutiny. Shots rang out at a military base in the commercial capital Abidjan on Saturday. Troops closed off a large junction near the Akouedo base, leaving all roads leading to the camp gridlocked with traffic and hampering access to a number of neighboring districts. There were also reports of similar protests erupted in a number of central and northern towns throughout the day, including in Man.
On 8 January, the country’s Defense Minister arrived in Bouake for talks with disgruntled soldiers. Hours later, officials announced that an agreement had been reached between the government and the soldiers. While initially, a mutineer close to the negotiations had disclosed that the soldiers were satisfied with the agreement, which would address demands for bonus payments and improve their living conditions, adding that the soldiers were now preparing to return to their barracks, some of the renegade troops later opened fire outside the house in Bouake where the negotiations had taken place. A number of local officials, including the defense minister, journalists and the mutineers’ own negotiations were trapped inside. They were only allowed to leave several hours later. A statement released by the defense ministry later denied that the defense minister had been held by the soldiers.
The streets of Bouake appeared calm on Sunday and the military presence was gone. According to Sergeant Mamadou Kone, “we have cleared the corridors everywhere as promised and we have been in barracks since last night,” adding, “I confirm that all over the country all our men have returned to barracks and wait for their money. The mutiny is over for us.” He stated that the soldiers expect to be paid on Monday 9 January. Other cities across the country were also reported to be calm on Sunday, including in Abidjan, where a day earlier loyalist troops had deployed at strategic locations throughout the city. On the ground sources reported that residents rushed to supermarkets to purchase bottled water and other provisions in the event that the mutiny would last for days or weeks. There was no sign of any military presence on the streets of Abidjan on Sunday, with sources reporting that people were seen on the streets, shops were open and traffic moved as normal.