Ivory Coast will pay thousands of soldiers 15 million CFA francs ($25,782) each as part of buy-outs aimed at reducing the size of its unruly and mutiny-prone military, documents show.
Africa’s fastest growing economy in 2016, Ivory Coast was hit earlier this year by successive uprisings by low-ranking troops. The costly bonuses paid to end the unrest ballooned the budget deficit and the episode tarnished its image as one of the continent’s rising economic stars.
Government said last week it would retire around 1,000 soldiers by the end of the year as part of efforts to bring the force – estimated at about 25,000 – in line with “accepted standards”.
A spokesman did not say how much the soldiers would receive under the voluntary scheme. A document obtained by Reuters stated each retired soldier would receive a payment of 15 million CFA francs.
Neither the spokesman nor Ivory Coast’s defence minister were available to comment.
Diplomats said the move signalled government was beginning to implement a military reform law. According to a copy of the law seen by Reuters, 4,400 troops are to leave the army over four years.
It was not immediately clear if the figure includes soldiers already scheduled to retire during the period.
Ivory Coast’s army was thrown together from rival loyalist and rebel factions at the end of a 2011 civil war that brought President Alassane Ouattara to power after his predecessor Laurent Gbagbo rejected his defeat in a 2010 run-off election.
It remains plagued by internal divisions. Diplomats and analysts say the force is bloated with unqualified personnel and vulnerable to political manipulation.