Ivory Coast’s president dismisses security chiefs
ABIDJAN – Reuters
AFP photoIvory Coast President Alassane Ouattara dismissed the heads of the army, police and gendarmes on Jan. 9, after a two-day military mutiny that spread unrest across the West African nation, according to a presidency statement.
Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan also resigned and dissolved the government, a move that had been expected after elections last month but which was delayed two days by the weekend uprising.
Disgruntled soldiers demanding the payment of bonuses and wage increases began their revolt on Jan. 6, seizing control of Bouake, the second largest city, before troops in military camps in cities and towns across the country joined the mutiny.
Army chief General Soumaila Bakayoko - the former military head of a 2002-2011 rebellion, who has become increasingly unpopular with many troops - was replaced by his second in command, General Sekou Toure, the presidency statement said.
Gervais Kouakou Kouassi, superior commander of the National Gendarmerie, and Director General of the National Police Bredou M’Bia were also replaced by their deputies with immediate effect, according to the statement, read on national television.
The uprising of mainly former rebels now integrated into the army was the second such army mutiny in less than three years.
As happened in 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.
Defense Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi was briefly trapped inside the house in Bouake where negotiations took place on Jan. 7 after some mutineers opened fire outside, having initially rejected the timetable for bonus payments.
“I assure you that the president of the republic understands you. He is a man of his word,” Donwahi said on Jan. 9 in a televised address aimed at the disgruntled soldiers.
He said he planned to return to Bouake on Jan. 13 to meet again with the mutinous troops.