ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Feb 7 – Fresh protests by angry soldiers erupted in the Ivorian barracks town of Adiake, east of the commercial capital Abidjan on Tuesday, weeks after troops and security forces mutinied in the west African nation.
Member of the special forces repeatedly fired into the air at the barracks in Adiake, east of the commercial capital Abidjan, residents said.
“There is shooting all over the place. I closed my shop,” local resident Mariame Coulibaly told AFP by telephone.
“There are soldiers in the streets” another resident said. “The town is paralysed. The schools have closed, sending all the pupils home”.
Adiake is home to a maritime base that trains marine commandos and provides coastal surveillance in this area that shares a maritime border with Ghana.
The Ivorian special forces, an elite army unit, also have a base in the area.
Special forces commander Lassina Doumbia was heading to the town. “We’ll know more in the coming hours,” a defence ministry source told AFP,
The gunfire follows deadly protests across the country last month 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 soldiers earlier in January that offered some of them large one-off lump sum payments.
The mutiny over pay first erupted on January 5. The initial protests were quelled when the government reached a deal with 8,500 mutineers, agreeing to give them 12 million CFA francs (18,000 euros, $19,000).
However more soldiers have since taken to the streets demanding similar bonuses.
Last year Ivory Coast approved an ambitious military planning budget seeking to modernise the army and buy new equipment.
But even that 1.2 billion euros (1.25 billion dollars) pot would not be enough to offer similar payments to all the country’s security forces.