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Demobilised ex-rebels block entrance to Ivory Coast’s city Bouaké

By on May 8, 2017

Demobilised rebel fighters blocked a main road into Ivory Coast’s second city Bouake on Monday, demanding the payment of bonuses and jobs in the army and state institutions.

A witness and a soldier, who was not part of the group, said they saw several hundred demobilised fighters, some armed.

“We’re asking for President Alassane Ouattara to have a thought for his sons, who have suffered for 15 years,” Amadou Ouattara, who described himself as the spokesman for the group, said.

A Bouake resident, who said she briefly heard gunfire, confirmed they were still there, and some had ordered civil servants at the nearby offices of the national tax authority to leave the building.

“Some of them have weapons but many of them don’t,” said Isabelle Kouassi, whose bus was turned back as it attempted to leave the city. “They’ve blocked everything.”

Defence Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi said the protesters, that he said numbered only around 50 and were unarmed, were brought to the local government headquarters for discussions and said the roadblocks had been cleared.

This year’s unrest has exposed deep divisions in the military.

Ouattara said the Bouake protesters represented some 6,800 former fighters across the country who were demobilised after civil war ended in 2011.

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