On Tuesday, two spokesmen for soldiers behind a mutiny that has impacted Ivory Coast in the past five days have indicated that their leaders have accepted a government proposal on bonus payments and have agreed to return to their barracks, effectively ending the five-day revolt.
While so far neither the country’s defense minister nor government spokesman have confirmed the details of the agreement, a witness in Bouake, the epicentre of the uprising and Ivory Coast’s second largest city, disclosed that soldiers had withdrawn into their bases.
Reports have emerged that some Ivory Coast soldiers who participated in the five-day mutiny received notification from their banks that bonus payments wee credited to their accounts. According to Sergeant Seydou Kone, a mutiny spokesman, “some of them are getting messages from their banks. The transfers are being made. Its 5 million CFA francs (US $8,400) that’s arrived.”
The renegade soldiers, who have paralyzed cities and towns across the country since Friday 12 May, rejected an earlier deal that was announced by Defense Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi late on Monday 15 May. Leaders of the uprising however later disclosed that the agreement had been amended overnight, with Kone confirming in Bouake that “we accept the government’s proposal…We are returning to barracks now.” According to Kone, the proposal accepted by the soldiers means that 8,400 mutineers, mostly from rebel fighters who helped President Alassane Ouattara to power, will receive an immediate bonus payment of 5 million CFA francs (US $8,400), with another 2 million CFA franc being paid at the end of next month.
Back in January, in a separate mutiny, soldiers received 5 million CFA francs (US $8,400) each in order to end that revolt, with the government struggling to pay remaining bonuses of 7 million CFA francs, after the collapse in world prices for Cocoa, which is the country’s main export, squeezed finances. This most recent uprising erupted after a delegation representing the 8,400 troops announced that it had dropped the demand for further bonuses, angering other members of the group, who aid that they had not been consulted.
Residents in towns and cities across the country affected by the latest mutiny disclosed on Tuesday that calm had largely returned. Scattered gunfire was reported overnight in the commercial capital Abidjan and the western port city of San Pedro however it had petered out by dawn. According to locals, many schools in Abidjan remained closed. The African Development Bank also told its employees to remain home. While the situation was calm in San Pedro, a cocoa exporter and an official from the cocoa marketing board, the CCC, disclosed that businesses remained closed.
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In the wake of the 13 March deadly terror attack in neighbouring Ivory Coast, Ghana’s government has put the nation on high alert. The terror alert is a first for the West African country.
On 16 March, Ghana’s national security chiefs disclosed that they have intelligence of a credible terrorist threat in the country. The announcement was made on Wednesday following a meeting with Ghana’s President John Mahama to review their readiness. In a statement, the government called on Ghanaians to pay attention and report anything unusual to security agencies.
The alert comes as the United Kingdom has also advised its citizens in Ghana to be cautious. The United States has also restricted US service members’ travel to five West African countries, citing recent militant attacks in the region. On 16 March, the Pentagon issued the move, which effectively limits unofficial travel by US military personnel to Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Ghana. US Lieutenant Colonel Michelle Baldanza, a Pentagon spokeswoman, has disclosed that the order will remain in effect until 30 June and does not restrict official travel to the countries involved, adding, “given the recent attacks in Western Africa, we felt it prudent to make this decision at this time in an effort to ensure the safety of our personnel.” According to Navy Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Falvo, a spokesman for US Africa Command, “its just vigilance given the recent events that have happened in the area of the world.” US Africa Command has between 1,000 and 1,2000 forces on the continent at any one time, mostly in training and support roles to help local security forces combat militants.
Since November 2015, al-Qaeda militants have attacked hotels in two other regional capitals, Bamako (Mali) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), and a beach resort located outside Abidjan (Ivory Coast).
Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara has won the weekend’s presidential election, the elections commission announced on Wednesday.
According to President of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) Youssouf Bakayoko, Ouattara won a total of 2,118,229 votes, or 83.66 percent of ballots, adding that Sunday’s vote had a turnout of 54.63 percent. Results have indicated that Ouattara won the most votes in all but one of the 31 regions as well as in the largest city, Abidjan, and the capital, Yamoussoukro. Furthermore, he won all but sixteen votes in his home constituency of Kong, which is located in Ivory Coast’s north, where more than 14,000 voters cast their ballots.
Of the six candidates who were seeking to unseat Ouattara, his closest challenger was Pascal Affi N’Guessan, head of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI). He won 9.29 percent of the votes in Sunday’s election. The results announced by the CEI must now be validated by the constitutional court. Late on Tuesday, before the results were announced, Ouattara stated, “I would like to congratulate all Ivorian’s for their maturity and exemplary behaviour…Ivory Coast is resolutely committed to the path of stability and the reinforcement of democracy.” Sunday’s election has been judged to be peaceful and transparent by observers, which will likely reassure the county’s investors.