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18.10.2019 Ivory Coast

Ex Ivory Coast rebel chief Soro to run for president in 2020

By AFP
Former parliament speaker and ex rebel leader, Guillaume Soro says he will run in Ivory Coast's 2020 presidential vote.  By ISSOUF SANOGO (AFP)
OCT 18, 2019 IVORY COAST
Former parliament speaker and ex rebel leader, Guillaume Soro says he will run in Ivory Coast's 2020 presidential vote. By ISSOUF SANOGO (AFP)

Former Ivory Coast rebel leader Guillaume Soro, also an ex-president of the country's parliament, said Friday he will run in the 2020 presidential poll.

Next year's election is a key challenge for the West African country after its disputed 2010-2011 ballot ended in violence between rival supporters that left 3,000 people dead.

Soro headed rebels fighting against then President Laurent Gbagbo in the country's civil war in 2002.

The revolt cut the former French colony into a rebel-held north and government-controlled south, triggering years of unrest.

Gbagbo was later ousted after refusing to concede defeat to his arch-rival Alassane Ouattara in the 2010 election.

"I've decided, I am a candidate in 2020," Soro told RFI radio and France 24 television, saying he would make an "official declaration" once he had returned to Ivory Coast.

Although a former prime minister and aide to President Ouattara, Soro lacks the support of any of the three main political parties in Ivory Coast.

He has created his own group, Generations et peuples solidaires (GPS) or "Generations and people in solidarity", and says that like French President Emmanuel Macron, he could surprise political experts.

"I have decided to take my destiny in hand," Soro said. "I am 47 years old and I think I will go it alone."

Despite accusations that he had backed a brief army mutiny in January 2017, Soro said he saw "absolutely no reason" why the judiciary would prevent his candidacy.

Ivory Coast has long been west Africa's top economic performer and is the world's leading cocoa producer.

But it has struggled with political tensions since Gbagbo refused to step down despite an election defeat in 2010, sparking deadly clashes.

Later, in 2012, rebels-turned-soldiers protested in Bouake and Abidjan, and briefly brought the country to a standstill. The government agreed to an amnesty.

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