Ivory Coast says deal reached with dissident troops

Ivory Coast army mutineers drop financial demands

*Dissident troops deny this

*ECOWAS asks rebel troops to return to barracks

The Ivory Coast government said it has reached a deal with soldiers involved in a four-day revolt over pay.

Defence minister Alain-Richard Donwahi appeared on state TV to announce a settlement had been reached.

But only minutes later two spokesmen for the rebels said there was no agreement.

The dispute, over what the mutineers say are unpaid bonuses, began on Friday and spread through major cities.

Defying a government order to lay down their weapons, the soldiers opened fire in four cities on Monday.

The mutineers who helped the President take office in 2011 make up about 8,400 of Ivory Coast’s 22,000-strong army.

Pro-government forces had backed off from advancing towards Bouaké, the epicentre of the mutiny, apparently because they want to avoid a fight

Meanwhile, Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who heads the regional group ECOWAS, has condemned the actions of the mutinous soldiers in Ivory Coast.

In a brief statement, she called upon the mutineers to end the shootings and threats to civilian lives.

She admonished them to return to their barracks and resume negotiations for their compensation peacefully.

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