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Ivory Coast President Says Government Reaches Deal With Soldiers to End Uprising


Ivory Coast President Says Government Reaches Deal With Soldiers to End Uprising
United Nations peacekeepers in Bouaké, Ivory Coast, on Friday, where a military revolt appeared to have surprised the government. Negotiations were said to have avoided a protracted standoff. Credit Thierry Gouegnon/Reuters

Negotiations on Saturday appeared to have averted a protracted standoff between soldiers and the government in a military revolt in Ivory Coast, a country that has prided itself on political and economic stability in recent years.

President Alassane Ouattara said late in the day that the government had reached an agreement with disgruntled soldiers who had demanded higher salaries and better living conditions. But Mr. Ouattara criticized the soldiers for the way they had protested.

“I want to say that this way of making demands is not appropriate,” Mr. Ouattara said. “In fact, it tarnished the image of our country after all our economic development efforts.” According to witnesses, gunfire erupted early on Saturday at a military camp known as “old Akouedo” in a residential area of Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s largest city and its economic capital.

Rebellious soldiers from one battalion in the city erected barricades. Citizens in several cities reported that soldiers were patrolling the streets, some firing shots in the air. In Toulepleu, soldiers seized vehicles from citizens, said Serzh Kouehi, a resident there. Shots rang out throughout Friday in the cities of Korhogo and Bouaké.

There were no immediate reports of casualties. “People are afraid because the soldiers all have weapons,” said Estelle Koussi, a resident of Man, a city in western Ivory Coast, where the revolt also spread.

Early on Saturday, Alain Richard Donwahi, the country’s defense minister, arrived in Bouaké, where the uprising appeared to have started, for talks with the rebellious soldiers, whose demands included raises, bonuses and shorter tenures of service.

After the deal was announced, local news media reports from Bouaké said renegade soldiers were preventing Mr. Donwahi from leaving the city. But Mayor Nicolas Djibo of Bouaké said late Saturday that the soldiers had never threatened Mr. Donwahi, and that the minister had traveled to the local airport after the talks.

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