Concern over impact on economic growth
By Anthony Opara
Polity watchers have cautioned the Alasanne Quattara-led government in Cote d’Ivoire to not treat the sporadic outbreak of militia violence in the Francophone West African country with kid gloves.
They were responding to news of renewed heavy shooting in Abidjan and Bouake which is being linked to the now established difficulty in returning erstwhile militants back to normal, settled life patterns.
The militants who had been involved in the battle to oust the former regime of President Laurent Gbagbo have periodically broken ranks, demanding more money and better terms of reintegration into the regular national army.
According to the reports, heavy gunfire erupted on Monday in Ivory Coast’s two largest cities – Abidjan and Bouake even as the military pressed an operation aimed at ending a four-day nationwide army mutiny over bonus payments.
Loyalist troops began advancing towards Bouake, the epicentre of the revolt, on Sunday and sporadic gunfire was heard overnight there as well as at military camps in Abidjan.
Shooting in both cities then intensified before dawn.
According to other reports, heavy shooting was also heard in Daloa, a hub for the western cocoa growing regions, on Monday.
“I’ve been hearing the sound of Kalashnikovs and a heavier weapon. That began at around 5 a.m. (0500 GMT) … It’s intense,” said one Abidjan resident, who lives near the U.S. Embassy and the presidential residence.
Another Abidjan resident said mutinying soldiers came out of the country’s largest military camp and erected barricades, blocking traffic along one of the main thoroughfares in the east of the city.
“There was heavy shooting at the northern entrance to the city and in the city centre. It’s calmed a bit but we’re still hearing gunfire,” said one Bouake resident. A second resident confirmed the shooting.
The crisis is already taking its toll on the economy which had in recent times been growing at a most impressive seven per cent and counting. Within this climate, of crisis, Ivory Coast’s banking association, the APBEF, ordered all banks to remain closed on Monday.
“There was an emergency meeting this morning and the APBEF took the decision that, for security reasons, all the banks would stay closed,” a senior official with Banque Atlantique, who asked not to be named, revealed.
President Alasane Quattara of Cote d’Ivoire