29/07/2021

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Ivory Coast hands ex-PM Soro life sentence for plotting coup

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Former Ivorian Prime Minister and ex-rebel leader Guillaume Soro was sentenced in his absence Wednesday in Abidjan to life in prison for “undermining state security” for acts committed in late 2019.

The Abidjan court of assizes followed the prosecution’s demands, as for the other main defendants, Souleymane Kamagate, former head of protocol of Mr. Soro, Affoussy Bamba, former minister and Toure Moussa, his former head of communication, sentenced to 20 years in prison, noted a journalist from AFP.

Two of Guillaume Soro’s brothers and his former right-hand man Alain Lobognon were sentenced to 17 months in prison for “disturbing public order”.

The court also ordered the confiscation of the property of Guillaume Soro and his 19 co-defendants, as well as the dissolution of his movement, Générations et peuples solidaires (GPS), accused of engaging in “subversive” acts.

It ordered the convicts to pay 150 million euros jointly to the Ivorian state.

“For him it will be life in prison,” President Alassane Ouattara said in October about Guillaume Soro, his former ally.

The former prime minister and former president of the National Assembly was accused of having fomented with his supporters a “civil and military insurrection” aimed at overthrowing the power during his aborted return to Côte d’Ivoire in December 2019, ten months before the presidential election of October 2020.

Guillaume Soro, 49, who lives in exile, and his co-defendants were accused of “conspiracy”, “attempted attack against the authority of the state” as well as “dissemination and publication of false news discrediting the institutions and their functioning, having led to an attack on the morale of the population”.

Leader of the rebellion that controlled the northern half of Côte d’Ivoire in the 2000s, Guillaume Soro had militarily helped Alassane Ouattara come to power during the post-election crisis of 2010-2011 against incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to admit defeat at the ballot box.

After the victory, Mr. Soro became Mr. Ouattara’s first head of government, and in 2012 he was appointed president of the National Assembly, a position he held until 2019.

But the two men gradually fell out, until they broke up in early 2019, according to observers, because of Soro’s presidential ambitions.

In April 2020, Mr. Soro had already been sentenced to 20 years in prison for handling misappropriation of public funds for having attempted, according to the judiciary, to appropriate a residence purchased by the state to house him when he was Prime Minister.

This conviction justified the invalidation a few months later of his presidential candidacy.

AFP