I Coast president announces deal with mutinous soldiers

Alassane Ouattara. (File: AP)
Alassane Ouattara. (File: AP)
Rebecca Blackwell

Abidjan - Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara announced on Saturday he has reached an agreement with soldiers who seized the second city Bouake in a pay protest that spread to the economic capital Abidjan.

"I confirm my agreement to take into account the demands relating to bonuses and improving the living conditions of soldiers," Ouattara said in a brief declaration broadcast on television.

"Having given my agreement, I ask all soldiers to go back to their barracks to allow decisions to be carried out calmly," he added, without giving details of the deal.

The announcement came after shots rang out at a military base in Abidjan as soldiers put up barricades in the city, a day after troops took over Bouake, firing rocket launchers in the streets and terrifying residents.

The soldiers are seeking bonuses, pay rises and faster promotion.

The deal was reached after a meeting between Defence Minister Alain Richard Donwahi and a delegation of the mutineers in Bouake.

The situation had dramatically escalated Saturday as the unrest spread to Abidjan, the bustling commercial hub of the world's largest cocoa producer and home to the presidency, government and parliament.

Soldiers also took to the streets of Daloa and Daoukro in the country's centre as well as Korhogo in the north on Friday. Though the protests there eased, the unrest had spread to Man in the west as well as Abidjan by Saturday.

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