Ivory Coast army chief meets mutineers in their barracks

2017-06-01 11:18
File: AFP

File: AFP

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Bouak - Ivory Coast armed forces chief Sekou Toure met on Wednesday with troops who had mutinied over pay, in a bid to heal deep rifts in the military.

Journalists were allowed to briefly enter the barracks in the city of Bouake, the focal point of a revolt which left four people dead and nine injured, according to government figures.

After the talks, which were closed to the press, Toure said his message had been that the armed forces had to end the current three-way split between the 8,400 former rebels who have been integrated into the army; regular troops loyal to ex-president Laurent Gbagbo; and those supportive of current President Alassane Ouattara.

"I reminded them that in the army there are three categories; officers, sub-officers and the rank and file. These are the three categories I would like to hear about," he said.

A first revolt broke out in January and flared again in May before being calmed by promises of a bonus.

Many of those who mutinied were former rebels who joined the army in 2011, as peace returned after a decade-long war that had split the country in two.

Ivory Coast has an army numbering around 22 000 soldiers, but falling cocoa prices have severely crimped the government's finances.

Last year, the government unveiled an ambitious plan to modernise the military, part of which would involve the departure of several thousand men, particularly ex-rebels, who will not be replaced.

Read more on:    ivory coast  |  west africa

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