ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — An Ivory Coast court has sentenced prominent opposition figure and former prime minister Guillaume Soro to life in prison for “undermining the security of the state.”
The criminal court in the West African country’s largest city, Abidjan, also ordered the dissolution of Soro’s political movement, which was created after he resigned as speaker of the legislature in 2019.
Soro, who lives in exile in France, was tried in absentia. An international arrest warrant has been issued against Soro and five others living outside the country.
The former president of the National Assembly and 19 others were prosecuted for an “attempt to attack the authority of the state” as well as “dissemination of false information” that discredited the institution and its functions.
Soro reacted to the verdict, calling it unjust.
“I totally reject these unfair verdicts, pronounced outside all the rules of law and dictated only by political considerations,” he said in a statement on his Twitter account.
Soro said the goal of the trial is to remove him from Ivory Coast’s politics, and that it demonstrates a compromised judiciary.
“These verdicts reinforce my conviction that we must fight courageously and without weakness against the capture of the Ivorian state … I will not give up this fight,” he said.
In 2020, the former rebel leader who went on to become the president of the National Assembly, was already sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of embezzling public funds and money laundering. He denies the charges and his supporters say they are politically motivated. He did not return to Ivory Coast because of the conviction and was blocked from running in the country’s presidential election last year. Soro has called on the military to disobey President Alassane Ouattara, who won a controversial third term.