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Côte d’Ivoire presidential hopeful Guillaume Soro sentenced to 20 years in jail

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FILE PHOTO: Former Ivorian National Assembly president Guillaume Soro. (Photo credit ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP via Getty Images)

Côte d’Ivoire presidential candidate Guillaume Soro was on Tuesday sentenced to 20 years in jail by a court for embezzlement and money laundering.

In addition to the jail sentence, the court also ordered that Soro be stripped of his civic rights for seven years.

Soro was convicted in absentia following a trial that lasted just a few hours and one which his lawyers snubbed.

“Guillaume Kigbafori Soro is condemned to 20 years in prison for embezzling funds and laundering public resources,” the presiding judge, Cissoko Amouroulaye, said.

Soro, 47, who appears likely to be excluded from October’s presidential election, has denied the charges and claims it is a move to stop him contesting against Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, President Alassane Ouattara’s favoured successor.

In December 2019, authorities issued a warrant of arrest against Soro following his failed attempt to return to the country after a six-month absence. According to the state prosecutor Richard Adou then, Soro was accused of an attempt against the state authority, which authorities had proof was going to be executed soon.

Soro is expected to face another trial over the coup allegations.

Soro led rebels who failed to oust then-president Laurent Gbagbo in 2002. Soro’s forces installed President Alassane Ouattara during a civil war that followed the 2010 election, in which both Gbagbo and Ouattara claimed victory.

Soro was once an ally of President Ouattara but they allegedly fell out over the former’s presidential ambitions.

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