Tag Archives: Ivory coast

Parliamentary election begin months after Presidential election birth violence.

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Gbagbo was president during a turbulent period between 2000 and 2011, when civil warfare split the country.

Campaigning for parliamentary elections in Ivory Coast began on Friday, with the March 6 vote coming four months after a presidential election marred by violence.

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The opposition boycotted the presidential poll, calling for “civil disobedience”. But it has decided to take part in the vote to elect members of a National Assembly currently dominated by the ruling party.

For the first time in a decade, the branch of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) led by former president Laurent Gbagbo will put forth candidates, as part of coalition called Together for Democracy and Sovereignty (EDS).

EDS has forged an alliance with the largest opposition party, the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI), headed by former President Henri Konan Bedie, who was allied with the ruling RHDP in the last legislative elections in December 2016.

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Between the PDCI and RHDP, they obtained an absolute majority with 167 out of 255 seats.

Now Bedie says he intends to win the majority with Gbagbo to “avoid the consolidation of absolute power in our country” and “to reconcile the Ivorian people”.

The election could he held in the absence of Prime Minister Hamed Bakayoko, after the 55-year-old travelled to France for a week for medical treatment.

RHDP executive director Adama Bictogo said he “would have like for him to be by our side, so that together he and I could have launched this campaign”.

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The opposition’s participation in the vote comes after signs of appeasement from the government, including the conditional release of several opposition figures arrested after the presidential election of October 31, 2020.

That election was easily won by Ouattara, but the opposition contested the result, saying his bid for a third term was unconstitutional.

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The violence that followed the election left 87 dead and nearly 500 injured.

The bloodshed led to all parties calling for peaceful parliamentary elections.

The campaign, which officially ends on March 4, began as Gbagbo’s supporters eagerly await his return to Ivory Coast, announced by his party for mid-March.

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Gbagbo was president during a turbulent period between 2000 and 2011, when civil warfare split the country.

He refused to accept that Ouattara beat him in a 2010 presidential poll and some 3,000 people died in post-election violence before Gbagbo was arrested in April 2011.

He was transferred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to be tried for crimes against humanity.

But Gbagbo was acquitted in January 2019, and has since lived in Brussels pending a possible appeal.

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The ICC has authorised Gbagbo to leave Belgium on the condition that the country he wishes to go to agrees to receive him.

Ouattara has stated several times stated he is in favour of Gbagbo’s return.

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#Newsworthy

Minister discusses return with ex president, Laurent Gbagbo.

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Gbagbo’s return is one of the big issues in talks on ending the post-election rift, gathering the government on one side

An Ivory Coast minister said Thursday he would shortly meet ousted ex-president Laurent Gbagbo to discuss his return home to help heal national divisions.

In an interview with AFP, National Reconciliation Minister Kouadio Konan Bertin said he would go to the Ghanaian capital of Accra next week.

From there, “I am going to Brussels to meet Laurent Gbagbo,” he said.

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The “conditions” for the former president’s return will be discussed, he said, without giving details.

The minister gave no date for the talks, but “the principle (of the meeting) has been reached,” and it was being carried out with the approval of President Alassane Ouattara, Gbagbo’s long-standing rival.

“I am acting in his name,” he said.

Gbagbo, 75, was ousted in April 2011 after refusing to concede electoral defeat to Ouattara, triggering violence that claimed around 3,000 lives.

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He and a former right-hand man, Charles Ble Goude, were tried on charges of crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

They were acquitted in January 2019 and remain free pending the outcome of an appeal. Gbagbo is currently in Brussels.

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The former president retains significant political clout at home, through his party and a regional stronghold.

After bitterly contested presidential elections in October, Ouattara offered an olive branch to Gbagbo, apparently believing that his predecessor could help ease tensions.

Ouattara issued him with a diplomatic passport in addition to an ordinary one, but since then, there has been no movement in Gbagbo’s plans — initially set for December — to come back.

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Bertin, who trailed a distant third in the October 31 poll, described Gbagbo as a “major figure” in Ivorian politics “whose opinion should be taken into account.”

His return should be “negotiated… in order to consolidate social peace,” he said.

Bertin also said he would go to The Hague to meet a close aide of Goude, who also wants to return.

Gbagbo’s return is one of the big issues in talks on ending the post-election rift, gathering the government on one side and opposition figures who boycotted the poll on the other.

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The opposition said that Ouattara had already served two terms in office and his third term violated the constitution — a claim Ouattara denies on the grounds that a constitutional revision reset the presidential tenure to zero.

The ICC has given Gbagbo authorisation to travel outside of Belgium, provided the host country accepts him.

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#Newsworthy

Ivory Coast: First election results released.

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According to the first results, President Ouattara obtained 98% of the votes in Korhogo the northern capital, with an 88% participation.

Guarded by a heavy police presence, Ivory Coast’s electoral commission has started to announce the preliminary result of the presidential vote.

With 2 of the four candidates boycotting, incumbent President Allassane Ouattara is expected to win, especially in the north of the country.

The area is known for being a stronghold of the president.

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Ouattara’s opponents keep claiming his bid for a third term was unconstitutional, and say the vote which, according to them, is an attempt at a “coup d’etat”, was a failure.

Through FPI’s leader Pascal Affi N’Guessan, opposition leaders called for a civil transition on Sunday, and once more stated they no longer recognized Alassane Ouattara as the Ivory Coast’s president.

The RHDP ruling party has meanwhile “warned” the opposition “against any attempt at destabilization”.


#Newsworthy…

Cote D’ivoire sets 60,000 seats stadium ahead 2023 AFCON.

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Ivory Coast inaugurated Saturday its new 60,000-seat Olympic stadium, built with the help of China, in Ebimpe, on the outskirts of Abidjan, in preparation for the African Cup of Nations soccer in 2023.

The ceremony, with a great show of dance and music, took place in the presence of 50,000 people, according to the organizers – including Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, who is seeking a controversial third term in the October 31 presidential election.


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The president said he was “proud and happy of this Sino-Ivorian cooperation” for “this architectural jewel”.

The Ebimpe stadium will be the largest in Ivory Coast, replacing the Houphouët-Boigny stadium located in the center of Abidjan.

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It will host the opening match and the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

The stadium and ancillary facilities (swimming pool and Olympic city, hotel …) cost 218 million euros, according to Ivorian authorities, with counterpart funding from China, which has a strong economic presence in the West African country.

The work was carried out in nearly four years by Beijing Construction Engineering Group, a Chinese firm.

The construction of the facility also aims to develop the Anyama area, on the northern outskirts of the Ivorian economic capital, where the first metro line is due to be built.


#NobleSport

[Ivory Coast] Laurent Gbagbo’s supporters file his election candidacy.

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Supporters of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo, who lives in Belgium after being tried by the International Criminal Court, on Monday filed his candidacy for October’s presidential election.

Gbagbo, who was freed conditionally by the ICC after he was cleared in 2019 of crimes against humanity, had been barred by the country’s electoral commission from running.

“We have just submitted the candidacy file of our political leader, president Laurent Gbagbo, the father of democracy in Ivory Coast who we have applied to be our candidate for the presidential election,” said Georges-Armand Ouegnin, president of the pro-Gbagbo coalition called Together for Democracy and Sovereignty (EDS).

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The October 31 election in the world’s top cocoa grower is set to be tense after years of political turbulence and civil war, and Gbagbo’s return to national politics is highly sensitive.

The country remains scarred by a conflict that erupted after the 2010 vote when Gbagbo refused to hand over power to the victor, current President Alassane Ouattara. Around 3,000 people lost their lives in several months of violence.

Gbagbo, who has not made any public statement about whether he wishes to run again, is living in Brussels pending the outcome of an appeal against the ICC ruling.

In the meantime, he can travel, provided the country of destination accepts him.

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Struck from electoral lists
Independent Electoral Commission chief Ibrahime Coulibaly-Kuibiert has said that anyone convicted of a crime would be struck from the electoral lists for the ballot.

Gbagbo, 75, was sentenced in absentia to a 20-year term last November for the looting of the local branch of the Central Bank of West African States during the post-election crisis.

A supporter of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, president of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), gesture next to a banner in Abidjan on August 31, 2020, during the submission of his candidacy file to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). – Former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagboa is the candidate of the opposition coalition Together Democracy Sovereignty (EDS) in the presidential election of October 2020. (Photo by SIA KAMBOU / AFP)

In theory he could be jailed if he were to set foot in Ivory Coast, which makes any return a hot-button issue in the election run-up.

Ouegnin said the decision to block Gbagbo from running was political, while judicial sources said they believe his candidacy is unlikely to be validated.

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“The Constitutional Council will have the heavy responsibility before the Ivorian people and history to decide on the validity” of blocking him from the electoral roll, said Ouegnin.

He called for the release of all political prisoners and the return of political exiles including Gbagbo.

The 2020 election is already set to be tense.

Violence erupted after Ouattara’s announcement he is seeking a third term, claiming the lives of at least eight people in August.

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The constitution limits presidents to two terms, but Ouattara and his supporters argue that a 2016 constitutional tweak reset the clock.

Candidates have until midnight Monday to submit their files with the electoral commission.

Relatives of the former rebel leader Guillaume Soro, forced into self-imposed exile in France in the face of a long list of legal problems at home, are expected to submit his candidacy on Monday.

Former president Henri Konan Bedie, 86, who also contested the 2010 election, is also expected to run.


#Newsworthy…

Ivory Coast’s Alassane Ouattara files candidacy for elections – calls for peace

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Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara called for peace after clashes that have claimed at least eight lives as he filed his candidacy on Monday for elections less than three months away.

Clashes broke out after Ouattara, who initially said he would not stand again, changed his mind following the sudden death of prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, his anointed successor.

“I know I can count on all my fellow citizens to ensure that this election is peaceful and that Ivorians can make their choice in peace, without violence,” Ouattara said as he left the headquarters of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) in Abidjan, flanked by most members of the government.

“We will submit to the verdict of our citizens. The citizens will remember our record, which is an exceptional record over the past nine years… I have a vision of stability, security, peace and happiness for Ivorians,” he said.

The constitution limits presidents to two terms, but 78-year-old Ouattara and his supporters argue that a 2016 constitutional tweak reset the clock, allowing him to seek a third.

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Six people were killed and about 100 were injured in demonstrations that erupted after Ouattara announced on August 6 that he would seek re-election following Gon Coulibaly’s death in July from a heart attack.

At least two more were killed at the weekend in clashes at Divo, 200 kilometres (120 miles) from Abidjan, after Ouattara formally accepted his nomination by the ruling RHDP party.

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara wearing a protective mask attends a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the country Independance from France on August 7, 2020 at the presidential palace in Abidjan. SIA KAMBOU / AFP.

Opposition and civil society groups say Outtara’s move to stand again in the October 31 vote amounts to a “coup”.

The world’s top cocoa grower remains scarred by a brief civil war that erupted after 2010 elections, when then president Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede to the victor, Ouattara. Months of violence claimed around 3,000 lives.

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– Gbabgo barred –

Challengers to the incumbent include 86-year-old former president Henri Konan Bedie for the main opposition party PDCI.

Two former ministers and Ouattara allies, ex-foreign minister Marcel Amon-Tanoh and ex-education minister Albert Toikeusse Mabri, are also running.

But election officials have rejected appeals by Gbagbo and former rebel leader Guillaume Soro to be allowed to compete.

Gbagbo was freed conditionally by the International Criminal Court (ICC) after he was cleared in 2019 of crimes against humanity.

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His return to Ivory Coast would be sensitive before the presidential election. His Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party urged him to throw his hat in the electoral ring.

Soro, a former rebel leader, has been forced into self-imposed exile in France in the face of a long list of legal problems at home.

He was a leader in a 2002 revolt that sliced the former French colony into the rebel-held north and the government-controlled south and triggered years of unrest.

He was once an ally of Ouattara, helping him to power during the post-election crisis in 2010. The two eventually fell out.


#Newsworthy…

Former Ivory Coast President, Laurent Gbagbo denied in new Election bid.

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Ivory Coast election authorities rejected appeals by former President Laurent Gbagbo and former rebel leader Guillaume Soro to be allowed to run in the country’s October election, an official said Friday.

President Alassane Ouattara’s decision to contest a third term in October has already triggered outrage among opposition and civil society groups, who labelled it a “coup” that risked triggering chaos.

Gbagbo and Soro had appealed to the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) against a decision to not include them in electoral lists for the ballot.

“The decisions have been posted since the 18th, the CEI has not granted their requests,” Inza Kigbafori, the CEI communications manager, told AFP.

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Ouattara, in power since 2010, had said in March that he would not run for re-election. The opposition says he is unable to run because the constitution limits presidents to two terms.

Ouattara changed his position after the sudden death of prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly — seen as Ouattara’s anointed successor — from a heart attack in July.

The shock news heightened tensions before October 31 vote, which takes place in the shadow cast by violence following 2010’s election that killed around 3,000 people.

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo gestures as he enters the courtroom of the International Criminal Court in The Hague on January 15, 2019. Peter Dejong / ANP / AFP

Gbagbo was freed conditionally by the International Criminal Court (ICC) after he was cleared in 2019 of crimes against humanity.

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His return to Ivory Coast would be sensitive before the presidential election. His Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party urged him to throw his hat in the electoral ring.

Soro, a former rebel leader, has been forced into self-imposed exile in France in the face of a long list of legal problems at home.

He was a leader in a 2002 revolt that sliced the former French colony into the rebel-held north and the government-controlled south and triggered years of unrest.

He was once an ally of Ouattara, helping him to power during the post-election crisis in 2010. The two eventually fell out.


#Newsworthy…

Feud as Ivory Coast’s leader, Alassane seeks third term.

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Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara’s decision to run for a third term in October’s presidential election triggered outrage on Friday among opposition and civil society groups, who labelled it a “coup” that risked tipping the country into chaos.

Ouattara, in power since 2010, said in March that he would not run for re-election, which the opposition has strongly maintained he was unable to do anyway because the constitution limits presidents to two terms.

But the race was turned on its head by the sudden death of prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly — seen as Ouattara’s anointed successor — from a heart attack in July.

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The shock news ramped up the volatility for the tense October 31 vote, which takes place in the shadow cast by political violence following 2010’s election in which around 3,000 people died.

Ouattara said on Thursday that he would run after all, citing “a case of force majeure” after the death of his ruling RHDP party’s candidate Coulibaly “left a void”.

The constitution limits presidents to two five-year terms.

But a new constitution was adopted in 2016, which Ouattara and his supporters argue reset the clock, allowing him to run again — an interpretation strongly contested by the opposition.

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Assoa Adou, the general secretary of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), one of the country’s two main opposition parties, said: “Alassane Ouattara cannot in any case stand in the election. His own experts have said so.”

A picture taken on August 5, 2019 shows Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara applauding during a ceremony at the presidential palace in Abidjan. ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

‘Organised state coup’
N’Goran Djedri of the West African country’s largest opposition party PDCI said Ouattara “is not above the law”.

“The people of Ivory Coast must demand the exact application of the 2016 constitution, which stipulates in article 183 that the legislation currently in force remains applicable.”

Moussa Toure, the communications director of presidential candidate and former prime minister Guillaume Soro, said: “We are facing an organised state coup in the sense that Mr Ouattara’s plan constitutes a serious violation” of the constitution.

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“His decision to run for a third term takes us back 10 years and risks plunging Ivory Coast back into a period of fear, division and chaos,” Toure added.

It was not just opposition parties expressing outrage.

“By succumbing to the temptation of political eternity, you risk driving Ivory Coast into chaos,” popular Ivorian singer Meiway said on social media. “Are you to sacrifice everything you have built to put yourself on the wrong side of history?”

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara wearing a protective mask attends a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the country Independance from France on August 7, 2020 at the presidential palace in Abidjan.
SIA KAMBOU / AFP

Satirical writer Gauz said the “old are not wise, they act like they’re in a playground,” referring to both 78-year-old Ouattara and his arch-foe and biggest rival, 86-year-old former president Henri Konan Bedie of the PDCI.

“It is despairing for the youth who represent four fifths of the Ivorian population,” Gauz added.

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Supporters express ‘immense joy’
The leaders of Ouattara’s ruling RHDP did not respond to requests to comment on Friday.

But Ouattara did lead a 15-minute ceremony at the presidential palace on Friday marking the 60th anniversary of Ivory Coast’s independence, after the celebrations were scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Policemen beat a demonstrator during a rally of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo’s supporters to protest against his absence on the presidential candidates electoral list, near the electoral commission headquarters on boulevard Latrille in Cocody district of Abidjan on August 6, 2020. SIA KAMBOU / AFP

After his announcement on Thursday, RHDP supporters celebrated in the economic capital Abidjan, the second-largest city of Bouake and Ouattara’s stronghold of Korhogo, according to Media journalists and residents.

“It is an immense joy which animates us. We are going to make short work of our adversaries” in the election, said Siaka Sylla, an RHDP youth leader in Bouake.

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The election comes after a low-level civil war and political turmoil that erupted in 2011 when former strongman Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power to Ouattara after losing elections. The ensuing unrest claimed some 3,000 lives.

Besides Ouattara and Bedie, the October election is also being contested by Gbagbo’s former prime minister Pascal Affi N’Guessan, former foreign minister Marcel Amon-Tanoh and ex-education minister Albert Toikeusse Mabri

Former rebel chief Soro is also running but he lives in self-imposed exile in France, facing a long list of legal problems.

Gbagbo, freed conditionally by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity over the 2010-2011 bloodshed, has applied for a passport so that he can return home for the election.


#Newsworthy…

Ivory Coast Prime Minister dies

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Ivory Coast PM Amadou Gon Coulibaly has died

Details later…


#Newsworthy…

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Cote d’ivoire: Political leader, Ble Goude sentenced to 20 years


A court in Ivory Coast has sentenced controversial political leader Charles Ble Goude to 20 years in prison over murder, rape and torture charges.

Ble Goude was cleared of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in the Hague this year, along with his former boss, Ivory Coast ex-president Laurent Gbagbo.

But following his acquittal, an Ivorian court brought a fresh trial against him over the 2010-2011 bloodshed which followed a disputed vote in the West African nation.


The former aide to Gbagbo, who has remained in the Netherlands following his ICC trial pending a possible appeal by the prosecution, told AFP the Ivorian court had convicted him on Monday.

Ble Goude who was sentenced in absentia said he was “surprised by the verdict”, adding that he had been sentenced to 20 years in prison, 10 years deprivation of his civil rights, and a fine of 200 million CFA francs ($340,000) to be paid to the victims.


The court has issued an arrest warrant for him, he added.

About 3,000 people died in the turmoil that swept Abidjan, once one of Africa’s most cosmopolitan cities — in the aftermath of the November 2010 presidential polls when Gbagbo refused to accept defeat to bitter rival Alassane Ouattara, who remains in power.


Leonard Lebry, the prosecutor general at the Court of Appeal in Abidjan has previously said the case against Ble Goude, once dubbed the “general of the streets” for his ability to mobilise Gbagbo supporters during the conflict, was “wider” than the ICC prosecution and covered different events.

“The court will try him (Ble Goude)” for allegations of “torture, murder, rape”, Lebry said last month.


Gbagbo, the first former head of state to stand trial at the ICC, and Ble Goude were tried over responsibility for murder, attempted murder, rape, persecution and “other inhumane acts” during five months of violence, both pleading not guilty.

They were released by the ICC to live in Belgium in February under conditions including that he would return to court for any prosecution appeal against his acquittal.


Ble Goude is living in the Netherlands under similar conditions.

Last month the Ivorian court rejected an appeal over the January 2018 sentencing of Gbagbo and three aides for the “robbery” of the Central Bank of West African States (Bceao) during the post-election crisis.

Ble Goude


The opposition has claimed Ouattara is attempting to prevent Gbagbo returning to the country ahead of 2020 elections expected to be a crucial test for Ivory Coast, which has long been west Africa’s top economic performer and is the world’s leading cocoa producer.

The court conviction comes in the same month that an arrest warrant was issued for former rebel leader and would-be Ivory Coast presidential candidate Guillaume Soro, who aborted his planned return to the country at the last minute.


#Newsworthy…