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DATE=12/23/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=IVORY COAST UNREST (L) NUMBER=2-257434 BYLINE=CHALLISS MCDONOUGH DATELINE=NAIROBI CONTENT= VOICED AT: 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 McDonough reports. 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 Republic. The extent of the rebellion is also not known. There has been no immediate response from the Ivorian government. 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) NEB/CM/GE/LTD/RAE 23-Dec-1999 14:28 PM EDT (23-Dec-1999 1928 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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