Self-exiled Ivory Coast ex-PM Guillaume Soro plans return

Guillaume Soro has announced plans to run in a presidential election in 2025

Former Ivory Coast Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, who took himself into exile in 2019, says he plans to return home despite having two criminal convictions.

He said on Sunday that he wanted to go back because it was hard “to live far from my ancestral… land of Africa”.

He added that he wanted to “contribute to the reconciliation” of the country.

In 2021, an Ivorian court sentenced Soro in absentia to life imprisonment for undermining national security.

The previous year, he had been sentenced to 20 years on charges relating to the embezzlement of public funds.

Both convictions happened while Soro was in self-imposed exile, which began in December 2019.

But Soro on Sunday said on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter, that he was “guilty of no crime”.

He added that an attempted arrest had been made against him at an airport in Turkey on 3 November, in an attempt to extradite him to Ivory Coast.

Although Soro did not specify the date for his return, he had announced in May that he intended to run in Ivory Coast’s 2025 presidential elections.

His previous bid to run for president in the 2020 elections was stopped by a Constitutional Court ruling.

Soro, a former leader of a rebel group that operated in northern Ivory Coast in the early 2000s, had been a key ally of the current President, Alassane Ouattara.

He provided military support to Mr Ouattara during a power struggle against then-President Laurent Gbagbo following a dispute over the 2010 election results, which descended into a brief civil war that killed nearly 3,000 people.

It ended when Mr Gbagbo was captured in April 2011.

Soro then became prime minister and national assembly speaker under President Ouattara.

But their relationship soured in 2019 after President Ouattara accused Soro of instigating a “civilian and military insurrection”, leading to Soro’s exile.


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