After three days of unrest, the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire has dispatched troops against mutinous soldiers in Bouake. In an echo of the January rebellion, The uprising began on Friday as rebel forces learned they would not be receiving the second bonus promised to them.
In January 2017, 8,400 soldiers rebelled and split off from the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire’s army in a protest over low pay that lasted two days. In an effort to buy a peaceful resolution, the government agreed to pay the mutineers bonuses in two installments. The first payment, immediately after the revolt, was of five million CFA francs (US$8,340). This month, the rebels were due to receive the second installment of seven million CFA francs (US$11680).
They instead received an unpleasant surprise on Thursday, when their public spokesperson, Sergeant Fofana, was broadcast on national television apologizing for the uprising and officially dropping their demand for any more money. “We apologize for the various situations we know we have caused. We definitively renounce all our financial demands,” he said, before saluting the President respectfully.
Thousands of former rebels were shocked by this statement, as they had not been consulted in any form. “That’s not what they were meant to say,” one of the mutiny leaders in Bouake told Reuters, referring to Thursday’s talks. “We want our 7 million and that’s it,” another added.
The rebellion began again on Friday, once more beginning in Bouake, the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire’s second largest city, before spreading to nine other cities, including the economic capital, Abidjan.
At this point, the rebels have killed one civilian and injured several more after firing into crowds of anti-rebel protesters. As a result, the Republican Forces of Côte d’Ivoire’s Chief of Staff, General Sékou Touré, released a statement justifying their military intervention stating, “These acts of an extreme seriousness are contrary to the mission of protection assigned to the armed forces. As a result, a military operation is underway to re-establish order.”
Unfortunately, the government can’t simply keep their word and pay the mutineers either. Up to 60% of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire’s national revenue is based on cocoa or cocoa byproducts. As a result, the recent collapse in cocoa prices has hit them hard and left them without the funds necessary to pay this debt. Cocoa prices are at a four-year low, down nearly a third from where they were last May. The government’s coffers simply aren’t deep enough to fund another 58.8 billion CFA francs for disgruntled soldiers.
Right now, the government of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire is claiming they are refusing to negotiate with rebel forces again. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they simply can’t afford to.