January 19, 2017 / 9:46 AM / in 2 years

Ivory Coast's ports resume cocoa loading after unrest

ABIDJAN, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Ship loading resumed at Ivory Coast’s two ports in the cities of Abidjan and San Pedro on Thursday, cocoa exporters said, after a temporary shutdown a day earlier due to unrest in some factions of the security forces.

Port activities were disrupted when paramilitary gendarmes fired shots into the air and sealed off access to the port in Abidjan, the commercial capital, forcing companies to close down.

The port reopened later in the day, but many cocoa exporters had already sent home personnel. Heavy gunfire then erupted in San Pedro after nightfall.

“The shooting eased yesterday at around 11 p.m. (2300 GMT) and this morning we are at work,” said a cocoa exporter in San Pedro. “The port is open and we will load beans for export this morning.”

It was the first time port activities in the world’s top cocoa exporter had been impacted by a two-week wave of unrest within the security forces over unpaid bonuses, and exporters said the risk of further disruption could not be ruled out.

“Our teams in Abidjan and San Pedro are at work this morning,” said another exporter. “We still have concerns, but we’re dealing with it and are focusing on our business.”

Ivory Coast has emerged from a 2002-2011 political crisis, including two civil wars, as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

However, the unrest which began with an army mutiny nearly two weeks ago has exposed deep divisions within a military that was thrown together from rival rebel and loyalist forces in the wake of a 2011 conflict.

President Alassane Ouattara on Wednesday ordered his defence minister and military chiefs to hold urgent talks with members of the security forces to take stock of their grievances in a bid to quell the instability. (Reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Richard Lough)

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