Ex-rebel uprising threatens disarmament process

Former rebels taking part in a demobilisation process in northern Cote d’Ivoire went on the rampage on 18 June in the former rebel stronghold Bouake, demanding that cash and benefits promised to them be expedited.

“We did not have the intention to jeopardise the whole process. We still have every intention of integrating into normal civilian life. But we need the money the authorities promised us,” one of the rioting rebels, Dramane Soro, told IRIN.

Each ex-rebel is supposed to receive US$210 per month for three months. The rioting rebels in Bouake said they had not received their money for two months and on 18 June they broke out of a cantonment area, burned tires and stopped traffic in Bouake. Some were heard shooting in the air.

According to the pro-government daily newspaper Fraternite-Matin, two ex-rebels were killed by civilians in Bouake in the fight. Ex-rebel leaders have said there were no deaths but several casualties.

On 19 June Bouake had returned to calm and the prime minister’s office announced that US$480,000 had been sent to Bouake to cover the ex-rebels initial payments.

So far 1,050 rebels have disarmed and demobilised in Bouake, according to the government. In total 2,568 of an estimated 36,000 fighters are engaged in disarmament, demobilisation and rehabilitation (DDR) activities. Around 10,000 are to join the national army and the rest will receive vocational training to integrate them into civilian life.

The UN mission in Cote d’Ivoite (ONUCI) says donors have provided just 65 percent of the US$420 million required to complete the combined DDR process and presidential elections that it is hoped will end Cote d’Ivoire’s political crisis.