In Summary
  • Heavy gunfire rang out Monday in Ivory Coast's two biggest cities as a four-day mutiny by disgruntled soldiers spread nationwide but the government claimed a deal to end the crisis had been reached.
  • Border posts closed, halting road traffic to Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, while Ivory Coast's second biggest city, Bouake, was under the control of mutinous soldiers.
  • "This is not a coup. We want our bonuses. The president signed a paper saying he agreed with our bonuses. When he pays up, we'll go home," said a spokesman for troops at Bouake barracks, the centre of the latest protest.

BOUAKÉ

Heavy gunfire rang out Monday in Ivory Coast's two biggest cities as a four-day mutiny by disgruntled soldiers spread nationwide but the government claimed a deal to end the crisis had been reached.

Banks, offices and department stores closed in the heart of the economic capital, Abidjan, as shots were fired in San Pedro, the second biggest port in the world's top cocoa-producing nation.

Border posts closed, halting road traffic to Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, while Ivory Coast's second biggest city, Bouake, was under the control of mutinous soldiers.

The mutiny is the latest in a series of armed protests since January in the West African country, with troops angered by a wage dispute with President Alassane Ouattara's government.

"This is not a coup. We want our bonuses. The president signed a paper saying he agreed with our bonuses. When he pays up, we'll go home," said a spokesman for troops at Bouake barracks, the centre of the latest protest.

ANONYMITY

"We'll fight to the end. We won't lay down arms," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity from the city where the protest movement began earlier this year.

"8,500 of us brought Ouattara to power, we don't want him to leave but he's got to keep his word. It's that simple," he added as a group of soldiers, some wearing masks, let off shots.

Defence Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi late Monday said "an agreement has been found" with the mutineers, though he did not give any details.

"We consequently call upon all soldiers to clear the entry points into cities and return to their barracks," he said on national television.

But soldiers denied any deal had been reached.

CONCEDE DEFEAT

"We do not recognise the agreement. How do you have a baptism without the baby? No representative from Bouake was there on Monday for their 'deal'. As far as we know this was a meeting of high officials," a mutineer said on condition of anonymity.

Heavily-armed rebel troops controlled exits and entrances to Bouake, where residents appeared to be largely staying indoors.

Ouattara took office in 2011 after months of deadly election violence in which more than 8,000 rebels supported him against troops backing ex-head-of-state Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to concede defeat at the ballot box.

Many of the rebels subsequently joined the regular army, which currently numbers some 22,000 troops.

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