ABIDJAN Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara dismissed the heads of the army, police and gendarmes on Monday after a two-day army mutiny that spread unrest across the West African nation, according to a statement from the presidency.
Disgruntled soldiers demanding the payment of bonuses and wage increases began their revolt on Friday, seizing control of Bouake, the second largest city, before troops in military camps in cities and towns across the country joined the uprising.
Army chief General Soumaila Bakayoko, Gervais Kouakou Kouassi, the superior commander of the National Gendarmerie and Director General of the National Police Bredou M’Bia were relieved of command with immediate effect, the statement said.
The weekend uprising was the second such army mutiny in less than three years. As was the case with the first uprising, the government conceded to the low-ranking soldiers’ demands and agreed to pay bonuses likely to cost state coffers tens of millions of dollars.
Years of conflict and a failure to reform the army, thrown together from rival rebel fighters and government soldiers, have left it hobbled by divisions.
Ivory Coast, French-speaking West Africa’s largest economy, emerged from a 2002-2011 political crisis as one of the continent’s rising economic stars but Ouattara’s failure to rein in the army could threaten that.
(Reporting by Ange Aboa and Loucoumane Coulibaly; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Louise Ireland and Richard Lough)