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Fresh gunfire in army barracks town in I.Coast

By AFP

Added 8th February 2017 04:19 PM

The elite troops appeared to be angling for a deal with the government along the lines of one struck in January that offered some soldiers large one-off lump sum payments.

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A soldiers' mutiny has raised security fears in Ivory Coast ©SIA KAMBOU (AFP/File)

The elite troops appeared to be angling for a deal with the government along the lines of one struck in January that offered some soldiers large one-off lump sum payments.

Ivory Coast special forces fired in the air in the army barracks town of Adiake for a second day Wednesday, the latest incident in weeks of trouble with mutinous soldiers and security forces.

The elite troops appeared to be angling for a deal with the government along the lines of one struck in January that offered some soldiers large one-off lump sum payments.

"The shooting has started again. Today, it's market day, and they (the troops) told the women to return to their houses. Everyone is terrified, and holed up in their homes," a resident of Adiake told AFP by phone.

The gunfire in Adiake, located to the east of the commercial capital Abidjan, is the first protest action by special forces troops based there who are in charge of the president's security.

Protests in January were by soldiers and members of the security forces.

Adiake also is home to a maritime base that trains marine commandos and provides coastal surveillance in an area that shares a border with Ghana.

The elite troops were on the front line of fighting in March last year  when jihadist forces attacked the resort of Grand Bassam east of Abidjan, leaving 19 people dead.

They are also tasked with ensuring the security of President Alassane Ouattara.

A defence ministry official said the government will make a statement later Wednesday on the unrest.

- Political link? -

Troops first launched a mutiny over pay on January 5.

The initial protests were quelled when the government reached a deal with 8,500 mutineers, agreeing to give them 12 million CFA francs (18,000 euros, $19,000) each.

However more soldiers have since taken to the streets demanding similar bonuses.

Last year Ivory Coast approved an ambitious military planning budget seeking to modernise the army and buy new equipment.

But even that 1.2 billion euros pot would not be enough to offer similar payments to all of the country's 23,000-strong security forces.

The revolt led to Ouattara ordering major changes in top security ranks -- the armed forces' chief of staff, the senior commander of the national gendarmerie and the director-general of the police.

The mutiny came as a constitutional reform saw former prime minister Daniel Kablan Duncan sworn in as vice president -- with some analysts saying he could well be placed to step into Ouattara's shoes in future.

But some analysts wonder whether another former premier, ex-rebel leader Guillaume Soro, may have harboured presidential ambitions of his own, seeing a possible link between the army mutiny and the reshuffle. 

Soro, who was elected parliament speaker in January, attended Kablan's swearing-in ceremony, and has consistently backed Ivory Coast's constitutional reform however.

The International Monetary Fund said in December that Ivory Coast was on track towards becoming the continent's fastest-growing economy. 

The mutinies, however, have raised fears the country might slip back into deadly unrest.

A rebellion in 2002 sliced the former French colony into a rebel-held north and government-controlled south, triggering years of unrest.

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