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Wednesday, 5 July, 2000, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Ivory Coast 'deal' over army pay
Soldier and civilians in Abidjan
Soldiers have been out in force in Abidjan
Ivory Coast's military authorities say they have reached an agreement with soldiers who demanded bonus payments for their role in the coup in December.

Military officials who met representatives of the soldiers have told reporters that the discussions produced a "positive" outcome.

The entire country had spent the night under curfew, following gunfire and looting by soldiers in several towns.

But Ivory Coast's main city of Abidjan was quiet on Wednesday morning, amid a continuing stand-off between the military authorities and rebellious soldiers.

Representatives of the soldiers met General Robert Guei's National Public Salvation Committee junta at a secret venue.

After about 45 minutes of discussions, both sides left for the state television station to broadcast a joint statement.

Communication Minister Henri Cesar Sama Damalan told Reuters news agency that a deal had been reached, while an unnamed adviser to the general told AFP that the negotiations had produced a "positive" outcome.

Demands 'impossible'

Soldiers reportedly demanded bonuses of between 5m and 6m CFA francs (about $9,000) each, as a reward for their part in the 24 December coup that toppled President Henri Konan Bedie.

Guei speaks on television
General Guei: "Positive" discussions with mutineers
Before the latest talks, Higher Education Minister Sery Bahilly told the BBC that meeting the soldiers' demands would mean diverting money away from projects such as housing.

"In the present situation of the economy it is not possible to find that money," he said.

A BBC correspondent in Abidjan said some employees had spent the night in their offices in the Plateau business district as they had no means of getting home.

But other reports say the Plateau was "almost deserted" on Wednesday morning, suggesting that other people were reluctant to go to work.

Those with cars were afraid to use them, after soldiers commandeered cars at gunpoint on Tuesday.

Address to the nation

On Tuesday evening, General Guei made a national address on state television in an effort to avoid a military mutiny.

Calm had returned to Abidjan by nightfall, apart from the occasional gunshot, and a spokesman for the mutineers read a statement on national television asking his comrades to return to barracks.

In the televised address, General Guei appealed for the soldiers to "think first of all of the public interest" and added that he was "open to dialogue".

During Tuesday's disturbances, General Guei took refuge in the headquarters of the paramilitary police.

He imposed a curfew to run from 1900 (1900 GMT) until 0600 (0600 GMT).

The mutineers' spokesman, Corporal Aboubakari Kone, said that a commission composed of representatives from all branches of the armed forces would be set up to study the soldiers' grievances.

"The President of the Republic has assured us that all our demands will be satisfied."

However, when he appeared on television, General Guei made no mention of the commission and gave no public undertaking to address the dissidents' grievances.

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See also:

05 Jul 00 | Africa
Why the world watches Abidjan
25 Dec 99 | Africa
Ivory Coast's new 'Le Boss'
04 Jul 00 | Africa
General Guei calls for talks
24 Dec 99 | Media reports
Coup leader pledges democracy
08 Jan 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Ivory Coast's unexpected coup
05 Jul 00 | Africa
Ivory Coast's 'Le Boss'
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