Mutinous I Coast troops holding defence minister despite deal

(File: AP)
(File: AP)

Bouak - Mutinous soldiers were holding Ivory Coast's Defence Minister Alain Richard Donwahi on Saturday, rejecting the terms of a deal announced by the president to end their angry pay protest.

"Just after the declaration by President Alassane Ouattara, the soldiers went back in angrily," reported an AFP journalist at the talks between the two sides in Ivory Coast's second city Bouake, which was seized by troops on Friday.

"They have stopped the defence minister and his delegation from leaving the deputy prefect's residence by shooting Kalashnikov rifles and heavy weapons," the correspondent said.

The soldiers are seeking bonuses, pay rises and faster promotion, in an angry protest that had spread since Friday morning to several other towns.

In a televised announcement shortly earlier, Ouattara had announced a deal to "take into account the demands relating to bonuses and improving the living conditions of soldiers", without giving details of the agreement.

His intervention came after tensions sharply escalated in the world's biggest cocoa producer, with shots ringing 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.

Donwahi had gone to Bouake - cradle of a rebellion that split Ivory Coast in two between 2002 and 2011, sparking a decade of unrest - in a bid to defuse the crisis.

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