, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, Jan 23 – Angry protests erupted in several Ivory Coast cities on Monday, including in the economic capital Abidjan where retired soldiers barricaded a major highway as a teachers’ strike kept schools closed.
The veterans threw up roadblocks on the main northbound highway in the morning, snarling traffic, as angry firemen blocked traffic to the east of the city.
Most of the city’s secondary schools remained closed as teachers remained at home as part of a two-week civil service strike to demand better pay and pensions.
In the country’s second city of Bouake hundreds of schoolchildren took to the streets, blocking traffic, in solidarity with the strikes.
“We urge our government to settle the teachers’ demands so our classes can restart,” said a student spokesman, Amadou Soto.
The strikes follow deadly protests across the country last week by security forces and troops that left four dead, shut down Abidjan port, one of Africa’s biggest, and disrupted business in the world’s top cocoa producer.
The angry troops appeared to be angling for a deal with the government along the lines of one struck with mutinous troops earlier this month that offered some soldiers large one-off lump sum payments.
Observers said Monday’s protesters also appeared to be inspired by the mutineers.