ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ivory Coast’s government said on Wednesday it will negotiate with elite special forces soldiers as a revolt, which saw them storm out of their barracks and seize a town in the coastal southeast, entered its second day.
After a brief overnight lull, soldiers again took to the streets of Adiake, about 95 km (60 miles) east of the commercial capital Abidjan, firing weapons in the air and sending town residents fleeing home.
“There was shooting around 8.30 (0830 GMT) at the market,” said one town resident, who asked not be named. “The soldiers told the sellers to go home.”
The violence that began on Tuesday follows a wave of army mutinies across the West African nation last month that forced the government to concede to demands for bonus payments and dealt a blow to Ivory Coast’s image as a post-war success story.
“Discussions are under way with the military command. Discussions will continue at the ministerial level,” government spokesman Bruno Kone said following a cabinet meeting in Abidjan.
He said that two civilians had been wounded by stray bullets on Tuesday. “The government condemns and deplores these violent forms of protest,” Kone told reporters.
General Lassina Doumbia - commander of the special forces, among the best trained and equipped troops in the army - travelled to Adiake to meet with the mutineers on Tuesday.
“My friends in the special forces confirmed to us that the propositions of their chiefs yesterday were not accepted,” one military source told Reuters.
He added that the special forces soldiers were demanding that the entire army receive the same bonus paid last month to another group of troops, most of them former rebels, to end their earlier mutiny.
“They’re fighting for all of us now. They want the same bonuses for us,” said a second military source who was in contact with the special forces in Adiake. “For the moment, there’s no deal.”
Ivorian authorities have not released details of the earlier agreement but mutiny leaders said the deal included a promise to pay 8,400 troops 12 million CFA francs (£15,625) each they said they were owed for fighting against ex-president Laurent Gbagbo.
A 2011 civil war capped a decade-long political crisis and brought Alassane Ouattara to power. Ivory Coast has since emerged as one of the world’s fastest growing economies and a darling of frontier market investors.
Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly and Ange Aboa; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Dominic Evans