BOUAKE– The streets of Ivory Coast’s second-largest city Bouake were calm and the military presence was gone, residents said on Sunday, after a two-day soldiers’ mutiny calling for bonus pay and better living conditions took over the city.
The mutiny began early on Friday when rogue soldiers seized Bouake. Soldiers at military camps in cities and towns across the country, including the commercial capital Abidjan, joined the rebellion.
A deal was reached between the government and the soldiers late on Saturday after negotiations, and a mutineer close to the negotiations said on Sunday soldiers had returned to barracks.
“We have cleared the corridors everywhere as promised and we have been in barracks since last night,” Sergeant Mamadou Kone told Reuters. “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 said the soldiers expect to be paid on Monday.
Traffic, snarled since Friday by roadblocks and barricades, was clear in Bouake, residents said, and the city was returning to normal. The gunfire of recent days had stopped.
“We spent a quiet night without shooting in the city and this morning we no longer see a soldier in the streets,” said resident Benoit Konan.
Other cities were also reported to be calm on Sunday, residents and Reuters witnesses said, including Abidjan, where a day earlier loyalist troops were deployed at strategic locations in the city and residen
There was no sign of military on the streets of Abidjan on Sunday. People were seen walking to church, shops were open and traffic moved as normal, a Reuters reporter said.
Ivory Coast – French-speaking West Africa’s largest economy and the world’s leading cocoa producer – has emerged from a 2002-2011 political crisis as one of the continent’s rising economic stars.
But years of conflict and a failure to reform its army, thrown together from a patchwork of former rebel fighters and government soldiers, have left it with an unruly force hobbled by internal divisions.
The revolt comes two years after hundreds of soldiers barricaded roads in cities across Ivory Coast demanding back pay in a near identical uprising.
Then too the government agreed a deal that included amnesty from punishment and a financial settlement for the mutineers.