Côte d’Ivoire: the soldiers’ anger
Since the start of the year, Côte d’Ivoire has been through three rebellions which were only a few days apart. Calm has returned and the authorities are trying to appease soldiers’ anger. The issue: avoid letting the country slip into chaos once again.
The ivoirians thought that they were reliving those years of violence and horror which previously plunged the country into an unprecedented crisis. Rounds of automatic fire have shaken the cities of Bouake, Korogho and Daloa. These municipalities belonged to former rebels who were responsible for the divisions in 2002. These former rebels have now joined the army. They were the ones firing into the air, adding to the panic.
Successive rebellions from the different security forces
The mutinies claimed back their bonuses. In Abidjan, the capital, the government has reacted quickly. Alain Richard Donwhai, the minister of National Defence, was sent to Bouake, which seems to be at the centre of the rebellions. There, negotiations with the rebels lasted several hours. Some sources said that the minister and his delegation were held hostage but the information has been denied. To stamp out the rebellion, the Ivoirian presidency came to an agreement with the soldiers. The main claims will be respected. The 8,500 soldiers who are involved will receive 12 000 000 francs CFA, that is around 18 000€.
The Ivoirian state thought that the ‘rebellion’ was over. But the agreement did not satisfy everybody, especially the other security forces. They were not involved in the agreement, because they were not a part of the rebellion. They felt cheated by the authorities, and showed this frustration by causing another rebellion. Policemen, soldiers, prison wardens and customs officers have resonated in the main Ivoirian cities, including Abidjan and Yamoussoukro. They claimed the increase of their pay.
This revolution made a victim in the military ranks of the rebellion. The government called for an easing of tensions. After a few days of calm, armed men’s anger started again. At the beginning of February, rebellions continued with the special forces, an elite unit, expressing their discontent.
The exasperation of the population
Ivorian’s exasperation concerning the rebellions increases. The rebels tried to calm down the inhabitants by apologizing. The authorities are being criticized by some of them because they give in too fast in front of the former rebels.
In Lyon, at the University of Jean Moulin, an Ivoirien doctorat feels split. “By giving up so easily in the face of this military pressure, the government knows that it just openning up Pandora’s box”, he said. For him, the government should have stayed steadfast and not given up in front of those men in uniforms. But, for that, the country would need an efficient national army. “For the moment, he laments, the composition of the army is a big problem. On the one hand, there are the former-DSF [defence and security forces, editor’s note] who are disregarded for their support of the former president, Laurent Ggabo, and on the other hand there are the former rebels who supported Alassane Ouattara. The two forces mistrust one another”.
Last year, authorities decided to extend an act on military programming until 2020.
Picture: credit ONU Flickr.