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Cablegate: Disgruntled Ex-Combatants Paralyze Bouake Over

VZCZCXRO2563
OO RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHAB #0397 1701733
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 181733Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABIDJAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4319
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS ABIDJAN 000397

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ASEC PREL EAID IV
SUBJECT: DISGRUNTLED EX-COMBATANTS PARALYZE BOUAKE OVER
PAYMENT DISPUTE


1. (U) The demobilization and disarmament of the Forces
Nouvellles (FAFN) continue to be problematic for the
government. One June 16, more than 1000 troops paralyzed
Bouake, demanding payment of promised monies. According to
pres reports, the action was organized by soldiers who were
to be integrated in the new joint army, which is to be formed
as part of the peace process. The disgruntled soldiers were
claiming payments of 90,000 francs cfa (about $213) each,
which they were promised they would receive monthly for a
three-month period as part of the peace agreement. Calm
returned to the city with the intervention of their regional
Commander, Sherif Ousmane, who pointed out that the source of
the problem was not the Forces Nouvelles leadership but
rather the difficult financial situation of the government of
Cote d'Ivoire. This likely brought little satisfaction to
the regrouped soldiers whose only other source of income is
money collected from racketeering at road stops for their
survival.

2. (U) However, the calm was short-lived. This morning (June
18,) soldiers believed to be FAFN have again taken their
protests to the streets, shutting down Bouake for a second
day. Gunfire was heard throughout the city. Streets were
void of pedestrian and vehicle traffic, and businesses were
shut. Thus far, there are no reports of injuries. Sources
on the ground in Bouake believe the gunfire was not directed
toward specific targets but rather random firing into the air.

3. (SBU) The government's apparent inability to fund costs
related to the regroupment of Forces Nouvelles soldiers, and
the impact on the security environment could pose a serious
threat to the viability of the November 30 date for
presidential elections. PM Soro has repeatedly called on the
international community to provide more financial assistance
to help resolve this issue. The Ivorian press reported June
18 that President Gbagbo, along with Burkina Faso President
Blaise Compaore, met with Libyan leader Mouammar Kadhafi at
the community of Sahelian-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) meeting
that is taking place in Benin. Kadhafi reportedly promised
to partially finance the disarmament if there is a "blocage"
or freezing of funding. There is concern that if the FAFN
are not paid soon, the protests could spread to other areas
in the North and further complicate the peace process. Post
will continue to monitor and report on developments.
NESBITT

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