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Ivorian defence minister announces deal with mutinous soldiers – again

Issouf Sanogo, AFP | A policeman signals cars to pass as mutinous soldiers stand at the entrance of Bouake, Ivory Coast, on May 16, 2017.

Ivory Coast's government has reached an agreement with mutinous soldiers who had taken to the streets in the West African nation's largest cities to demand more pay, the defense ministry said.

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Residents of Bouake, the epicenter of the mutiny and Ivory Coast's second-largest city, said Tuesday that soldiers had left the streets and cleared blockades to allow the movement of vehicles. Gunfire that had been heard since Friday in various cities had gone quiet.

In a statement carried on television, Defense Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi confirmed an agreement with the soldiers to end a crisis that left one person dead, many injured and businesses closed in several parts of the country.

Donwahi urged all soldiers to "free up the roads, to go back to their barracks and to keep the peace. We ask the people to stay calm and we assure them that everything possible is being done for a speedy return to normality."

The brief statement released late Monday did not contain details of the agreement.

The soldiers are part of a group who launched a mutiny in January seeking to improve their compensation and living conditions. When a group of them apologized to President Alassane Ouattara and the head of the army on national television last week, dissatisfied soldiers took to the streets. They demanded the remainder of bonuses promised to them in January but not yet fully paid.

One person was killed Sunday when the mutinous soldiers used guns to disperse residents protesting their violence in Bouake.

The soldiers are former rebels who helped put Ouattara in power after his predecessor refused to leave office after losing the 2010 election. The roughly 8,400 soldiers were integrated into the more than 20,000-strong Ivory Coast army. 

(AP)

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