JOHANNESBURG – Ivory Coast has launched a military operation to counter a three-day mutiny over bonus payments after the soldiers involved refused to disarm.
The mutineers, the majority of whom are former rebel fighters who fought to bring President Alassane Ouattara to power, succeeded in sealing off the city of Bouake, the second largest city in the country, while simultaneously breaking up protests against the revolt with gunfire.
In the ensuing violence, three protesters were shot, with one succumbing to his wounds over the weekend.
The Military Chief of Staff, General Sekou Toure, issued a statement announcing the new offensive as loyalist soldiers advanced on Bouake, Al Jazeera reported Sunday night.
“These acts of an extreme seriousness are contrary to the mission of protection assigned to the armed forces,” the statement said. “As a result, a military operation is under way to re-establish order.”
However, despite the military operation, the mutineers have vowed not to surrender until they have received their money.
The mutiny began in Bouake on Friday when a spokesman for the group dropped demands for extra pay promised by the government during negotiations to end a previous mutiny in January.
The mutineers had earlier received $8,370 and were due to receive the outstanding amounts this month but the government has struggled to meet the payments due the budget being hit by a collapse in the price of the Ivory Coast’s main export cocoa.
Furthermore, the defence minister has reiterated that there will be no new negotiations with the mutineers as public anger against the renegade troops continues to grow.
Other protests against the mutineers also took place in Abidjan, the northern city of Korhogo and western cocoa hub of Daola.
– African News Agency (ANA)