Sat, May 13, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Ivory Coast former rebel soldiers apologize to president


About 8,400 Ivory Coast soldiers who mutinied in January apologized to Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara in an orchestrated ceremony that was aired on national television late on Thursday.

Organized without the knowledge of the press, the event — broadcast after it took place at the presidential palace — signaled a dramatic end to the protest movement.

As well as apologizing the rebels said they were giving up all their financial demands.

Ouattara said of the rebels that he “believed their words were sincere” and they would now be “exemplary soldiers.”

A spokesman for the rebels, named as Sergeant Fofana said: “We apologize for the various situations we know we have caused. We definitively renounce all our financial demands.”

In a sign of allegiance he saluted the president, the images showed.

In January, former rebels integrated into army ranks staged a mutiny that paralyzed activity in several towns of the west African nation while they pressed for bonuses.

In meeting the demands of the ex-rebels, who controlled the northern half of Africa’s biggest cocoa producer from 2002 to 2011, the authorities provoked a fresh mutiny by other troops and paramilitary gendarmes.

Clashes claimed four lives in the political capital of Yamoussoukro.

The mutineers, who demanded 12 million West African CFA francs (US$19,600) in payments for each soldier, obtained 5 million CFA francs in January and had been due to receive the rest of the sum this month, the rebels had told reporters.

The government had refused to give details of the negotiations.

Ouattara on Thursday said the nation was going through a “very, very difficult time” after a fall in the price of cocoa led to “a net loss of 150 billion CFA francs” to the state budget.

The mutiny had “scared Ivorians, as well as those who want to invest in and visit the country,” he said.

He said the government had given up plans to build new schools and other facilities, and an electricity program for villages would be delayed.

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