Former rebel leader and one-time Ivorian prime minister, Guillaume Soro, has been sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment on charges of plotting a coup against President Alassane Ouattara.
Soro who is on exile was charged with conspiracy and an attempted attack on the state. His lawyers condemned the charges as politically motivated and said there was no evidence to show he was guilty.
The court also demanded the disbanding of Soro’s political movement Generations and People in Solidarity party (GPS).
The court handed 20-year jail term to nineteen other persons in connection with the case. Among them is Soro’s lawyer, Affoussy Bamba, also in exile.
Soro’s lawyers said they would appeal the decision. During Côte d’Ivoire’s civil war, Soro led the rebel forces that ousted the regime of President Laurent Gbagbo, leading to the election of Alassane Outtara.
Soro went on to serve as prime minister and speaker of parliament under Ouattara, but the two men fell out as the president made it clear that he would oppose Soro’s own presidential ambitions.
The stalemate has incenced many in the country still recovering from a brief civil war a decade ago, during which Soro led the rebels that shot Ouattara to power after a disputed election.