Former rebel leader and would-be Ivory Coast presidential candidate Guillaume Soro said he would organise “political resistance” from abroad in an interview published Sunday, a day after president Alassane Ouattara warned him and other rivals against destabilising the country.
“It is only a question of political resistance,” Soro told French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche following accusations he was preparing an imminent “civilian military insurrection” to seize power.
“I am and remain a presidential candidate… I will organise the resistance just as de Gaulle did from London,” he said, referring to the French wartime resistance leader.
Ouattara on Saturday had warned against any attempt to destabilise the country, days after an arrest warrant was issued for Soro, a former ally turned political rival.
“No one will be allowed to destabilise Ivory Coast,” Ouattara said during a joint news conference with Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, according to a statement sent to AFP.
“The law will be applied to everyone, candidate or not,” Ouattara said.
“Nobody is above the law, former presidents of the republic, presidents of institutions, the president of the republic and everyone else,” he added.
Ouattara’s comments could be seen as directed at not just Soro, but also former president Henri Konan Bedie, leader of the main opposition party, who has not yet said whether he is running for the presidency.
Soro had been due to head back to Ivory Coast on Monday after a six-month absence. But after security forces stormed his party headquarters in Abidjan he diverted his flight.
Prosecutors then issued an arrest warrant for him.
He told the Journal the arrest warrant against him was politically motivated, adding he planned to remain in Paris but had not “asked for any particular help” and had had “no contact” with the Elysee Palace.
Soro, who remains a member of parliament, also said he had concluded an electoral pact with Bedie that would see the highest-placed in the first round support the candidacy of the other in further rounds of voting.
Soro’s planned return has raised tensions in the West African nation ahead of a presidential election next year.
The one-time prime minister — who is planning to run for the presidency in October 2020 — also faces allegations that he was launching an operation abroad to try to discredit the current regime in Ivory Coast.
He and his supporters have dismissed the allegations as a political frame-up.
On Friday, Soro tweeted that he would make a live address to the nation on the evening of December 31 — when, traditionally, Ivorian heads of state make their speech.