Ivory Coast: Army launches operation ‘to restore order’ after mutiny

BBC

A mutinous soldier patrols in the streets of Ivory Coast's central second city Bouake, in May 14, 2017Image copyright AFP
Image caption The mutinous soldiers took control of Bouaké, the second-largest city

Ivory Coast’s military says it has launched an operation to “restore order” after three consecutive days of protests by mutinous soldiers.

The soldiers took to the streets in several cities over a pay dispute and blocked off the second largest city, Bouaké, on Saturday.

They have said they are willing to fight if the army intervenes.

Popular opposition to the rebellion has been growing, culminating in a march against the soldiers in Bouaké.

Six people were wounded when the soldiers opened fire on protesters during Saturday’s demonstration.

‘Troops advancing’

In a statement released at 1700 GMT on Sunday announcing that a military operation was underway, armed forces’ chief of staff General Sékou Touré said many of the mutinous soldiers had listened to earlier calls for them to stand down.

But he said that some soldiers were continuing to disobey orders, which is why the operation had been launched.

Troops are advancing towards Bouaké, Reuters news agency reports.

In January, the soldiers forced the government into paying them about $8,000 (£6,200) each in bonuses to end a rebellion.

They were due to receive a further payment this month and several thousands of mutineers had been unhappy they were not consulted when on Thursday a spokesman for the group said they would drop their demands for the remaining money.

The government has said it will not negotiate with the disgruntled soldiers.

The mutiny has raised fears of a resurgence of the violence seen during Ivory Coast’s 10-year civil war, which ended in 2011.

Many of the mutineers in January are former rebels who joined the army after the conflict.

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