Mutinous Soldiers In Cote D’Ivoire Free Minister as President Promises to Act on Demands
Mutinous soldiers in Cote D’Ivoire have released defence minister, Alain Richard Donwahi after holding him hostage in a building in the city of Bouake for many hours.
Donwahi was released very late on Saturday as fears began to mount about the possible outcome of the action of the soldiers with many fearing the possibility of an overthrow of the government.
Prior to Donwahi’s release, the mutinous soldiers had spread themselves across major cities and seemed ready to take over strategic locations in the country.
The fear of a military takeover was heightened by the fact that President Alassane Ouattara was out of the country to attend the inauguration of Ghana’s new President, Nana Akufo-Addo in Accra, and it was not immediately clear if he had troops loyal to him and what orders he would give as he returned to Cote D’Ivoire on Saturday.
The defence minister who was held hostage by the protesting soldiers had arrived Bouake on Friday in an attempt to resolve a crisis arising from the demands of the Ivorian army for improved salaries and faster promotion among other things.
Donwahi appeared to have succeeded in brokering peace and President Ouattara announced that he had taken into account the demands over pay and conditions and asked troops who already overtook the army headquarters, to return to barracks.
Announcing the deal on national television, President Ouattara said:
“I confirm that I have agreed to take into account the demands of the soldiers over bonuses and better working conditions,” he said, without giving details.
“I would like to say that this manner of making demands is not appropriate. It tarnishes the image of our country after all our efforts to revive the economy.”
Despite the President’s announcement, some of the mutineers opened fire, trapping Mr Donwahi and dozens others in a local official’s home. They were only allowed to leave several hours later.
According to Kenya’s Nation newspaper, shortly after Donwahi’s release, troops lifted the barricades that had blocked entry to Bouake since Friday, and the automatic rifle fire that had rattled all through the previous night and into Saturday fell silent.
Neither Donwahi nor the mutinous soldiers have made any comments since his release. The minister was also said to have headed straight to the airport where an AFP photographer spotted his plane taking off shortly after he arrived.
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