Ivory Coast president says agreement reached with soldiers over bonuses

UN Peacekeepers arrive in the Ivory Coast city of Bouake on January 6 where soldiers demanding more pay and housing rose up earlier in the day. Soldiers seized control of Bouake on January 6, 2017 in a protest over pay. firing rocket launchers in the streets and terrifying residents, as the government called for calm.

Story highlights

  • The soldiers claim they were promised a salary bonus they never received
  • The unrest has spread to several cities as well as a neighborhood of Abidjan

Abidjan, Ivory Coast (CNN)Amid unrest in cities across the nation, Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara announced Saturday the government reached an agreement with soldiers who have been demanding pay bonuses.

Some of the soldiers said they were promised -- but never received -- a salary bonus for their role in bringing Ouattara to power after disputed elections in 2010, a military source told CNN.
    Following a meeting Saturday with Ivory Coast Defense Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi and the soldiers, Ouattara announced the agreement and asked soldiers to return to their barracks.
    Soldiers prepare for talks Saturday in Bouaké with Defense Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi.
    But a government military source told CNN some mutinying soldiers in Bouaké rejected the agreement and started firing around the house where the negotiations took place. The soldiers said they want written proof they will be paid, the source said.
    The unrest began Friday in Bouaké, but gunfire then broke out in the cities of Man in the west and Korhogo and Odienné in the north, as soldiers took up positions at the entrance to each city with heavy weapons, the military source said.
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    The unrest spread Saturday to Abidjan, where soldiers set up roadblocks around the neighborhood of Palmeraie.
    So far, there have been no reports of anybody being shot or killed.
    The soldiers, including some who have been demobilized, say they were each promised 5 million CFA francs ($8,000) and a house for their role in the rebellion that brought Ouattara to power after his predecessor refused to acknowledge his election win.
    A government source told CNN on Friday that the government did give salary bonuses to the heads of the rebellion and it was not distributed to regular soldiers -- although he did not specify the details of what was paid.
    Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara came to power in 2010.
    The unrest comes amid political reshuffles in the Cabinet and several government institutions.
    Ivory Coast suffered months of violence following the disputed presidential elections in November 2010. Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent, refused to step down after Ouattara was declared the winner.
    Gbagbo was arrested five months later and is on trial at the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands.
    A UN peacekeeping force remains in Ivory Coast, tasked with ensuring the protection of civilians and supporting the government's efforts to disarm and reintegrate former combatants.