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Rebel Mutiny Ends in Ivory Coast, Demands Not Met


Rebel leaders in Ivory Coast say they have the situation under control after a mutiny by soldiers in the north. But some mutineers say that their demands have not been satisfied. The United Nations says it is protecting the mutineers and helping mediate the dispute. Brent Latham has more from our West Africa bureau in Dakar.

A spokesman for Ivory Coast Prime Minister Guillaume Soro said calm had returned to the north of the country, following an armed mutiny during the weekend.

All is calm in Bouake, he said. All is calm in Seguela. He added that the prime minister has gone to Bouake, where he has spoken.

The spokesman said Prime Minister Soro, who is also the rebel leader, has been in Bouake since Sunday. There, Mr. Soro ordered his commanders to "maintain the calm." He said the mutiny threatened the credibility of the entire rebel group.

Reports from Seguela said the fighting left one mutineer dead and others wounded. The mutineers sought the protection of U.N. forces as a condition to lay down their arms.

The mutineers are from an armed civilian militia that took part in the 2002 rebellion, but are not fully integrated with the rebel movement. Government reports said a group of about 60 took up arms Saturday in the town of Vavoua, and the violence then spread to nearby Seguela.

The group is upset with recent changes in the rebels' command structure. One leader, Zacharia Kone, was recently dismissed after failing to show up at a pre-disarmament ceremony.

A spokesman for the mutineers, calling himself Corporal Ahmed, told reporters that they also want to negotiate demobilization pay and other benefits.

U.N. force in Ivory Coast spokesman Mustaphe Dafir confirmed the U.N. is protecting the mutineers.

"We gave them security as they requested," said Dafir. "They are in their garrisons and our troops are nearby, to protect them."

Dafir says that the U.N. role, as an impartial force, is to provide security for all sides, and to facilitate negotiations.

In March of 2007, the rebels signed a peace agreement with President Laurent Gbagbo. Mr. Soro was named prime minister shortly after.

Post-war elections, which have already been delayed twice, are now scheduled for November 30. Key aspects of the peace deal, like disarming former fighters and issuing voting cards to hundreds of thousands of undocumented northerners, remain unfinished.


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