Mutineer soldiers have opened gun-fire in the streets of cities across the Ivory Coast(Cote d'Ivoire) defying a government order to lay down their guns as they make a case for promised pay from the government.
Many of the mutinous soldiers make up about 8,000 of Ivory Coast's 22,000 member army, the BBC-News reported earlier this morning. Mutineer soldiers were once rebels now integrated into the country's armed forces, which allowed present president, Alassane Ouattara, to assume power back in 2010, when the election-losing president Laurent Gbagbo, refused to leave office.
Locked in a payment dispute with the government of the world's largest exporter of cocoa beans, soldiers were promised $15,000 back in January. However, with falling world cocoa prices, the government has only made good on a payment of $6,500 but not the remaining $9,500.
The former rebels now integrated into the army, had fought for many years to help president Ouattara attain power on the Ivory Coast. Last Thursday, an alleged spokesman for the mutinous soldiers, had announced on national television that the rebels were dropping their demands for the rest of the money promised. However, the soldiers appear to disagree with the televised announcement and took to streets with their weapons in the cities of Abidjan, Bouake, Daloa, Bondoukou and others, shooting in the air. One person has been reported killed by a stray bullet.
Forces loyal to government have been dispatched to quell the mutiny as the country falls short of foreign currency because of slumping cocoa prices.
Violence is not foreign to Ivory Coast which gained its independence from France in 1960 and saw one man, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, rule as leader from 1960 until his death in 1993. There was a military coup in 199 and civil war broke out in the nation between 2002 and 2007 between the Muslin north and the Christian south. After some negotiations, a degree of stability returned to Ivory Coast, but the spell was broken when president Laurent Gbagbo lost the 2010 general election, but refused to leave office.
Rebel soldiers, many of them now integrated into the army, placed the declared winner of the 2010 election, Alassane Ouattara, now president, into the seat of power. Today, those soldiers are demanding payments as a violent showdown becomes possible on the Ivory Coast, where soldiers have mutinied.