Potential Hot Spots: December 25, 1999


There has been a military coup in Ivory Coast, long one of the more stable and affluent nations in west Africa. The cause was apparently money. An infantry battalion that had served on UN peacekeeping duty had not been paid promised bonuses. The UN pay rate for troops is much higher than what soldiers in poor nations get. The government usually offers the troops part of the difference between their normal pay, and the much larger UN amount. This is considered a bonus for troops going overseas and enduring more dangerous working conditions. But the bonuses often end up in the pockets of corrupt politicians or officers. That what apparently happened here, with resentment building up until the troops rioted. With their weapons. Several equally upset officers and former officers saw an opportunity to change the government. Which they did. Heads of state should always remember not to antagonize people with guns, especially if they work for you. Even though Ivory Coast was a democracy with a long history of political stability, trouble is often no farther away than a missing payroll or bonus.

December 25; About 1,000 Brazilian troops have deployed to the Paraguayan border for the annual security exercise. For several weeks, the troops will reinforce border crossing points and check every vehicle crossing the border.--Stephen V Cole


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