I Coast soldiers return to barracks after protests over pay

2014-11-19 15:37
Civilians walk as Ivorian soldiers block one of the main streets to the "Le plateau" business district in Abidjan. (Issouf Sanogo, AFP)

Civilians walk as Ivorian soldiers block one of the main streets to the "Le plateau" business district in Abidjan. (Issouf Sanogo, AFP)

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Bouake - Ivory Coast soldiers returned to their barracks on Wednesday after protests over a pay dispute in several cities that saw them storm a TV station and set up barricades, soldiers and residents said.

The West African nation's defence and interior ministers promised measures aimed at meeting the soldiers' demands, and a meeting was set for later Wednesday between government officials and military representatives.

Tuesday's protests sparked deep concern in the world's largest cocoa exporter three years after the end of a long crisis that had for a period split the country in two.

"Calm has returned in the barracks and throughout the country," a military officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"The protesters are waiting for the result of the meeting" set for Wednesday afternoon.

Waves of protests involving hundreds of soldiers began in the second-largest city of Bouake on Tuesday before extending to the economic capital Abidjan; Ferkessedougou and Khorogo in the north; and Bondoukou and Abengourou in the east.

In Bouake, unarmed soldiers took over the state TV and radio station and said they wanted to broadcast a message related to their demands, while also setting up barricades on the streets.

Soldiers and fire-fighters in Abidjan held up traffic in the central Plateau district, where several ministries as well as the presidential palace are located.

An AFP correspondent in Bouake said barricades had been removed and stores had re-opened.

Read more on:    ivory coast  |  west africa

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