Ivory Coast defense minister says deal reached with soldiers

Ivory Coast defense minister says deal reached with soldiers

Ivory Coast defense minister says deal reached with soldiers

President Alassane Ouattara says the government and the mutineers have reached an arrangement, confirming his "agreement to take into account the (soldiers') demands relating to bonuses and improving the living conditions".

Heavy gunfire erupted in Ivory Coast's second port city, San Pedro, on Monday, residents said, as a four-day nationwide army mutiny spread despite government threats the restore order with a military operation.

On Monday evening, Defence Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi said a deal had been reached but did not give any details, with soldiers continuing to fire their weapons in a show of scepticism. Shots were also heard from the Gallieni camp in the centre of the city. The western port of San Pedro remained closed, but exporters there said work would recommence on Wednesday.International commodities traders Olam International (OLAM.SI), Cargill [CARGIL.UL] and Barry Callebaut (BARN.S) ship cocoa from both of the ports.

Two spokesmen told reporters in the city of Bouake on Tuesday however that the deal included an immediate bonus payment of 5 million CFA francs ($8,400) for the 8,400 mutineers and a further payment of 2 million CFA francs at the end of June. "After what President Ouattara said yesterday we are satisfied, we have convinced our colleagues and we'll go back to our barracks", Sergeant Cisse, a spokesman for the mutineers, said.

A spokesman said they had dropped demands for the remaining money, an announcement rejected by numerous soldiers who sparked the revolt. "It's calmed a bit but we're still hearing gunfire", relayed a Bouake resident.

Authorities earlier on Monday said they would maintain a firm line with the mutiny. "There was heavy shooting at the northern entrance to the city and in the city center".

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A spokesman for the mutiny denied that any clashes occurred in Bouake and said the renegade soldiers were firing in the air to dissuade any advance on the city.

"All businesses are closed in Daloa".

Another 2m francs will then be paid at the end of next month.

"The soldiers lifted the roadblocks and we're not seeing them on the road", Mr Serge Touho, who lives near the key military base of Akouedo in the commercial capital, Abidjan, said on Tuesday (May 16).

Cocoa exporters at Abidjan port resumed buying beans from the country's interior after a one-day closure, and banks reopened.

Many schools in Abidjan remained closed, though the African Development Bank told its thousands of global staff that they could return to their downtown offices.

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