The former Ivorian Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, in exile for four years, "can return" to his country, but it is the justice system that will decide on the enforcement of his convictions in Côte d'Ivoire, declared the Ivorian government spokesperson on Thursday (Nov. 23).
"Guillaume Soro can return whenever he wants, indeed, the country is open," stated Amadou Coulibaly following a Cabinet meeting.
Coulibaly further said that justice and the implementation of the prison sentences which Soro was handed were the concern of "Cote d'Ivoire’s judicial administration" .
"All those who wanted to return have returned, and we see them in the country, sometimes even participating in political meetings," he assured, recalling the "means" put in place by President Alassane Ouattara "so that all those who had self-exiled could return."
Former leader of the rebellion that controlled the northern half of Côte d'Ivoire in the 2000s and later Prime Minister and President of the National Assembly, Guillaume Soro announced nearly two weeks ago that he was ending his exile and returning to Africa.
He had left Côte d'Ivoire in 2019 after falling out with the current President Alassane Ouattara.
In 2020, he was sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison for "complicity in embezzlement of public funds" in Côte d'Ivoire, and a year later, to life imprisonment for "endangering the security of the State."
Long before Mr. Soro's conviction in 2021, President Ouattara had declared that, for him, it would be "life imprisonment."
During his exile Soro lived in France, Belgium, Dubaï and in Asia.
Since his return to Africa, Mr. Soro has met with General Abdourahamane Tiani in Niger and Captain Ibrahim Traoré in Burkina Faso, two military figures who came to power through coups, in July last year and in September 2022, respectively.