Political imbroglio in Cote d’Ivoire: Former speaker Soro rejects all charges

Guillaume Soro moments after he resigned from the speakership
of the Ivorian parliament in February 2019

BY ALPHA KONE

(Editing by Lou Sifa)

The new political imbroglio triggered in Cote d’Ivoire by the warrant issued Monday by the government for the arrest of Guillaume Soro, the former speaker of the parliament, is deepening. Not long after diverting his flight to neighboring Ghana Monday for fear for his safety, the former speaker flew to Barcelona, Spain and wasted no time before firmly rejecting the charges leveled against him by the government.

According to the warrant issued by the office of the Abidjan District Attorney Richard Adou, Soro is wanted for attempt to destabilize the government and for embezzlement of public funds. Speaking on Christmas Day on behalf of the former speaker, Afoussiata Bamba, a member of Soro’s political organization, Generations and People in Solidarity, GPS, stated: “The president of the GPS informs the national and international opinions that these charges are unfounded. It’s common knowledge that this is simply a distraction. In fact, this move is intended, pitifully so, to prevent Mr. Soro from running for the 2020 presidential election.”

An archives image of Afoussiata Bamba

Afoussiata Bamba, who also previously served as Communication Minister in President Ouattara’s government, added that Soro will eventually address every aspect of the accusations “with clarity” in order for truth to triumph. For now, she brushed off the charge leveled against Soro about a real estate deal. She stated that the matter goes way back to over a decade, in 2008, during then-President Laurent Gbagbo’s tenure. She listed a number of officials of that time—presumably as possible witnesses. Afoussiata Bamba then called on President Ouattara to demonstrate the same transparency concerning some of his own financial transactions in those days.

Addressing the second motive of the international arrest warrant, the attempt to destabilize the government, Afoussiata Bamba stated that Soro admits only one destabilization, that of 19 September 2002—the armed rebellion aimed at toppling then-President Laurent Gbagbo—on behalf of President Alassane Ouattara. For which, she hasted to add, “he [Soro] continues to beg for the forgiveness of the sovereign people of Cote d’Ivoire.”

Afoussiata Bamba, a member of the Paris bar since 2001 who promised that everything will be laid out in the open by former speaker Soro for his defense, claimed—without going into detail—that the Ouattara administration was behind a number of failed attempts to “physically eliminate” the former speaker in Europe.

The collective of the Ivorian political opposition has also vehemently denounced the warrant to arrest the former speaker—who is still a member of parliament—as well as the arrest of members of his political organization.

In a statement released Tuesday following their meeting, the conference of the presidents of the Coalition for Democracy, Reconciliation and Peace (CDRP), the lawmakers stated their outrage over the arrest warrant issued for Soro, and called for its annulment and for dropping all the charges. “The CDRP denounces these new grave violations and pledges its support for the officials that have been arrested, and demand their immediate release.” The group also said it is “currently taking the appropriate measures to assist them legally and judiciary.”

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