Ivory Coast - Military Personnel
"Money or death!" a soldier outside the Gallieni military camp in Abidjan was heard saying between firing rounds of ammunition in the air. "We're not like teachers who express themselves with pens, our profession is guns." The soldiers were former rebels who helped put Ouattara in power after his predecessor refused to leave office after losing the 2010 election. The roughly 8,400 soldiers were integrated into the more than 20,000-strong Ivory Coast army.
On 16 May 2017 Ivory Coast's government reached an agreement with mutinous soldiers who had taken to the streets in the West African nation's largest cities to demand more pay. Soldiers had left the streets and cleared blockades to allow the movement of vehicles. Gunfire that had been heard in various cities had gone quiet.
On 12 May 2017 mutinous troops surrounded the military's headquarters as well as the defense ministry in the Ivory Coast's largest city, Abidjan, over an unresolved pay dispute that fueled unrest in the African nation since January.
Similar incidents were observed in Bouake, where rebellious troops reportedly sealed off the entire city. Korhogo and Odienne in the country's north were also affected. Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara was increasingly unwilling to negotiate with mutinous troops.
The soldiers, most of whom are ex-rebel fighters who helped bring President Alassane Ouattara to power, demand considerable pay raises, compensation for salary arrears and unpaid bonuses, saying that they are still waiting to receive some of the promised funds.
Special forces in the Ivory Coast army mutinied in the coastal town of Adiake on 07 February 2017, firing their weapons into the air. The incident was the first time that the elite forces had mutinied following a January 2017 revolt that began in the second largest city Bouake and spread to multiple other locations in the West African investment hub.
Gunfire began earlier in the special forces' camp and then the town began panicking as armed soldiers left the barracks. The mutineers were seeking a similar pay-off to one agreed with the government in January. This involved bonus payments for soldiers promised when fighting for former President Laurent Gbagbo.
The government reportedly paid the 8,400 troops behind the rebellion bonuses of 5 million CFA francs (7,500 euros/$8,200) each as part of a deal to end the prolonged mutiny. The soldiers were also due to receive a staggered payment of an additional 7 million CFA francs each as part of the agreement.
Soldiers in Ivory Coast began a revolt on 06 January 2016 in Bouake, the country's second largest city, demanding higher salaries and improved living conditions. It spread to the commercial capital, Abidjan, where soldiers commandeered the army headquarters. Within hours the mutineers had taken over nine cities, and at one point trapped the defence minister in a house for hours. President Alassane Ouattara says a deal had been reached to end the rebellion and agreed to look at the soldiers' demands.
The uprising of mainly former rebels now integrated into the army was the second such army mutiny in less than three years. As was the case with the first uprising, the government conceded to the low-ranking soldiers’ demands and agreed to pay bonuses likely to cost state coffers tens of millions of dollars.
In 2016 the government unveiled plans to modernize the military, part of which would involve the departure of several thousand men, particularly ex-rebels, who would not be replaced.
By 2010 the Defense and Security Forces (FDS), under former president Laurent Gbagbo’s Ministry of Defense, included the army with Some 6,500 soldiers, navy with 950 personnel, air force with 700 personnel, and the Gendarmerie with 7,600 troops, a branch of the armed forces with responsibility for general law enforcement. The Presidential Guard had 1,350 troops responsible for the security of the president as well as certain ceremonial functions. An additional 1,500 personnel served in the militia and 800 in the military fire service.
Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) of armed actors, as well as the integration of personnel into a professional national security force, will be somewhat less fraught than in the frozen uncertainty of the last 5 years, but it will nonetheless be a highly sensitive and difficult endeavor. In keeping with the 2007 Ouagadougou Accord, a force of 80,000 (55,000 military and 17,000 police) is envisioned, including 5,000 integrated from among the FRCI.
Security Sector reform in Cote d’Ivoire will be difficult given obvious pressures to integrate the members of all of the northern forces that ultimately contributed to putting Alassane Ouattara in power. Whether he asked them to or not, they defeated the ostensibly pro-Gbagbo army, and then fought their way through Abidjan against pro-Gbagbo military units, militias, and mercenary forces. They expect to be compensated for the risks they took. Managing these expectations will be a delicate balancing act. On one hand, incorporating the Forces Nouvelles Zone Commanders and other fighters into the military will help to take pressure off of Ouattara’s civilian government. On the other hand, isolating the former Forces Nouvelles in the army could lead to an eventual coup.
Under Gbagbo, state-sponsored death squads, government security forces, and militia groups intimidated and silenced perceived or actual pro-Ouattara supporters. Gbagbo also reportedly hired Liberian mercenaries that were implicated in numerous human rights abuses.
Noncriminal elements from all sides of the conflict could be incorporated, with clear plans to gradually draw down the size of the military over 10 to 15 years on the basis of meritocratic evaluation. In this way, the military can serve a useful function as a temporary social ‘‘sponge,’’ soaking up some portion of the most volatile young men who have experience making a living with guns. At the same time, by establishing clear criteria for evaluation, review and promotion (and ultimately for retention in the security forces), SSR could help to begin the process of reprofessionalizing a military that has become overly politicized, abusive, and characterized by extremely weak command and control discipline.
Allegations that Liberians were recruited for both the Côte d’Ivoire Government and the Forces nouvelles persist. Both the Côte d’Ivoire Group and its Liberia counterpart have actively investigated such allegations during 2006. Many of the allegations about Liberian recruitment are unsubstantiated but with over 90 per cent unemployment in post-conflict Liberia, a few hundred United States dollars is a strong incentive to become a mercenary if there is a market demand.
The disarmament of the Forces nouvelles and some FANCI forces was a key element in preparation for United Nations-monitored elections along with identification of eligible voters. Demobilization of some 33,000 Forces nouvelles, 5,500 regular FANCI troops, up to 10,000 unarmed and 2,000 armed members of militias affiliated with the Front populaire ivoirien (FPI) was scheduled in 2006. The pre-cantonment of FANCI and Forces nouvelles was launched on 22 May 2006. Thirty-five sites have been designated for FANCI and 50 sites for the Forces nouvelles. According to the Forces nouvelles they completed their pre-cantonment on 4 July 2006 with 33,049 combatants although this had not been independently verified. From the outset, logistical and political problems have hampered the precantonment process, which constitutes the first step in the DDR process.
The government's National Plan for Community Reinsertion and Rehabilitation (PNRRC is the French acronym) was intended to help former combatants who already possess basic skills to find jobs, and is supposed to give soldiers transition assistance in the form of three monthly payments of CFA 90,000 each, equaling a total of USD 650.
By 2008 the Forces Nouvelles (FAFN) planned to conduct the regroupment in four phases corresponding to different regions. The first phase is taking place in the Seguela/Bouake region; regroupment was scheduled to last until July 29. Gen. Bakayoko told Emboffs that the first regroupment yielded more than 2500 soldiers. The second phase was scheduled to take place in Katiola/Mankono, the third Man/Touba/Odienne, and the fourth Korhogo/Bouna/Boundiali. One of the FAFN's goal as it conducts the regroupment exercise is to identify 5000 soldiers to transition into a new, unified army; 4000 to go into the combined national gendarmerie and police force; and an additional 1000 to go into the various national forestry and customs services.
Alassane Ouattara gained the presidency in April 2014 with the help of groups of militia. The formal rebels from the civil war, known as the Forces Nouvelles, had been joined by local men who were picked up alongside the regular fighters. And the rather pernicious militias, such as the "Invisible Commandos" in Abidjan, joined up with Ouattara because their objectives were aligned.
Under the Ouagadougou Peace Accord in 2007, the government agreed to integrate the rebels, who were fighting against then-President Laurent Gbagbo, into the army. However, between 2009 and 2011 they were never paid. On 18 November 2014 soldiers blocked roads in the country's main cities in the biggest protest involving the Ivorian military since President Ouattara took office. Payments were due to about 9,000 former rebel fighters who were later integrated into the army. The fighters had been part of forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, who took office as president in 2011, ending a civil war. Defence Minister Paul Koffi Koffi ordered the soldiers to return to barracks after they blocked roads in the main city Abidjan and the second city Bouake. Ivory Coast Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko promised the government would meet demands for back-pay by thousands of protesting soldiers. Bakayoko also said soldiers would not face sanctions for protesting. Soldiers returned to their bases in the cities of Abidjan, Bouake and Korhogo, reopening several key routes to traffic. The army mutiny by former Forces Nouvelles rebels which spread rapidly on November 18, with soldiers pouring out of barracks and erecting barricades in towns all over the country, offered a reminder of the shortcomings of the costly military reform.
As of 01 May 2014, a total of 22,590 former combatants, including 1,596 women, were disarmed and demobilized, while 6,939 weapons, 531,583 rounds of small arms ammunition and 8,512 items of explosive ordnance were collected. Some 70 disarmament and demobilization operations were conducted at the disarmament, demobilization and reinsertion camp near Abidjan, involving mainly young FRCI associates and former Forces nouvelles elements. Smaller scale disarmament and demobilization operations also took place in the center and south-west of the country. However, inclusion and transparency remained a challenge. The rate of inclusion of combatants who had been affiliated with former President Gbagbo remained low, at 13 per cent, while a significant number of persons who had not been registered in the national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration database were included retroactively.
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