A criminal court in the Ivory Coast sentenced former Prime Minister Guillaume Soro on Wednesday in absentia to life for plotting against the state, according to media reports.
Prosecutor Richad Adou recently requested the sentence against the former rebel whose trial began May 19 in Abidjan.
Soro was convicted of “plotting against state security, participation in an armed gang without exercising any command, unauthorized possession of firearms of the first category and acts of maneuvering likely to jeopardize public security,” according to media outlet, Koaci.
The former prime minister was also convicted for “disseminating and publishing fake news discrediting the institutions and their functioning.”
Exiled for more than two years, Guillaume, a former ally of President Alassane Ouattara, also “attempted to overthrow the government” in 2019 and facts for which he is accused have “led to an attack on the morale of the population,” according to judicial authorities.
An international arrest warrant has been issued for Soro.
Soro’s supporters are also being prosecuted, sentenced and fined. Souleymane Kamagate, Soro’s former chief of protocol, Toure Moussa, former head of communications, and former minister Affoussy Bamba were each sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Soro’s brothers, Simon and Rigobert, along with others, were sentenced to 17 months for disturbing the peace.
The dissolution of Generations and People in Solidarity (GPS), Soro’s political movement, was also ordered by Ivorian authorities.
“I totally reject these iniquitous verdicts, pronounced outside all the rules of law and dictated solely by political considerations,” Soro said in a statement obtained by Anadolu Agency following the ruling. “The ultimate goal of this trial is to put a stop” to Soro’s political project and to “remove him permanently from the political game in Ivory coast.”
“This trial will have demonstrated, once again, the compromise of the Ivorian judiciary and its willing submission to the dictates of the Executive. These verdicts reinforce my conviction that it is necessary to fight courageously and without weakness against the capture of the Ivorian State and the placing it under tutelage of all its institutions,” he said.
He also indicated that he will not give up the fight.
The politician is not new to grievances with the justice system.
His candidacy in the 2020 presidential election was rejected after he was sentenced to 20 years in prison in a case involving money laundering and misappropriation of public funds for purchasing a villa
“Only in a dictatorship would a warrant be issued for the arrest of an election candidate. This act is a perjury that stains the end of the Ouattara presidency. This is pure lawfare,” Soro said on Twitter at the time.
The African Court of Human Rights ordered the Ivory Coast to suspend an arrest warrant against Soro.
He also faced charges of “war crimes,” “assassination” and “torture” for actions during the 2004 civil war and in the death of a former military rebel.