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Mutinous Soldiers in Ivory Coast Say Their Dispute Is Settled

Lieutenant Colonel Cherif Ousmane greets mutinous soldiers at the airport in Bouake, Ivory Coast, Jan. 13, 2017.

Soldiers in Ivory Coast who staged a two-day mutiny a week ago to press their pay demands reached an agreement with government officials Friday to settle the dispute, representatives of both sides said.

Gunfire coming from military bases in Abidjan, Ivory Coast's largest city, had fearful residents worried that the soldiers' uprising might resume, but reports late Friday night said a final agreement had been reached in Bouake, the country's second-largest city and headquarters of the soldiers' movement at the center of the pay protests.

A bonus of nearly $20,000 per soldier — 12 million CFA francs — was the central issue in Friday's negotiations, according to officials who declined to be identified. The government reportedly had pledged to pay the bonuses at the beginning of this week, but never followed through on that promise, the soldiers said.

Sergeant Mamadou Kone, a negotiator for the mutinous troops, told Reuters: "We've reached an agreement. They will pay 5 million [CFA francs] on Monday," with the remainder coming in monthly installments.

Eight independent West African nations use the CFA franc as their currency. It trades at a fixed rate of 100 CFA francs to one French franc.

Following last week's mutiny, Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara fired the heads of the army, police and gendarmes.

Bouake was the center of a rebellion that began in 2002 with a failed attempt to oust then-President Laurent Gbagbo. That uprising divided the country into the rebel-held north and the government-controlled south for nearly a decade.