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a witness in Bouake, the epicentre of the uprising and Ivory Coast’s second largest city, disclosed that soldiers had withdrawn into their bases.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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Following last weekend’s (6 – 7 January 2017) military mutiny and negotiated settlement, there are reports of resumed military discontent purportedly as payments have not been made as promised. President Alassane Ouattara has also changed three senior security force commanders, putting the Army, Gendarmerie and Police under new leadership. The combined effect has produced a lot of tension and it is not unlikely that events will once again overspill into violence. Our concern is the effects of this on regional operators not only in terms of the military action that could be taken but the lawlessness that could pervade in the absence of proper policing and proper support structures such as the Gendarmerie and Army.
The situation across Cote d’Ivoire remains fluid and violence could erupt again if the demands of the mutineers are not met soon. In order to prepare for civil disorder we recommend the following immediate action:
- Have a weeks supply of life support, including fuel
- Keep vehicles out of site in repair shops and stripped of valuables
- Be prepared to hand over vehicles if forced
- Keep a manifest of all staff and report daily
- Book all staff off site and back daily
- Do not go out before 0900 and be back by 1500 to avoid peak traffic and obvious car jacking times
- Ensure all staff have adequate air time and have emergency numbers and control post numbers to hand
- Establish a Duty Manager roster so that there is always a responder ready
- Email all movements to a central point so that there is a running record
- You should expect to see increased government forces traffic and presence if tensions increase
MS Risk continues to closely monitor the situation in Cote d’Ivoire and we will issue further bulletins as more information becomes available.