TITLE=IVORY COAST UNREST (L)
INTRO: Soldiers have taken to the streets in Ivory
Coast, demanding back pay. There have been no
reported civilian casualties, but it is not clear how
widespread the uprising is. V-O-A's Challiss
TEXT: Groups of soldiers in the commercial capital,
Abidjan, began rampaging through the streets, firing
automatic weapons into the air.
Witnesses say the soldiers have not been aiming at
people, but there is panic as terrified residents
scramble to evade the troops.
The soldiers have reportedly worked their way through
several areas of the city, including the
administrative district, Le Plateau. They have
invaded the state radio and television headquarters,
and both stations have gone off the air.
Witnesses say heavily armed soldiers have stormed and
looted local shops and seized civilian automobiles.
The troops have reportedly blocked several major
roads, including one leading to the nearby town of
Bingerville, east of Abidjan. A key military outpost
- Camp Akouedo - is located on that road.
The reason for the uprising is not immediately clear,
but news reports from Abidjan say the troops are angry
because they have not been fully paid for serving with
the U-N peacekeeping force in the Central African
The extent of the rebellion is also not known. There
has been no immediate response from the Ivorian
The uprising comes amid weeks of political tension
between the government and opposition leaders over
presidential elections scheduled for next year.
// REST OPT //
Wednesday, President Henri Konan Bedie went on
national television to appeal for calm and dignity
during the election season. In an unprecedented
speech before parliament, he urged the opposition to
cooperate with the government, and offered conditional
amnesty to the jailed leaders of an opposition party,
the Rally of the Republicans.
Party chairman and presidential candidate, Alassane
Ouattara; has accused the government of harassing his
followers. Last month, police imprisoned a number of
party leaders and issued an arrest warrant for Mr.
Ouattara. He is out of the country. (SIGNED)
23-Dec-1999 14:28 PM EDT (23-Dec-1999 1928 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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