Guillaume Soro in Paris, in September 2020. STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP
It is in Paris that a new chapter in the legal setbacks of Guillaume Soro, ex-rebel leader, former prime minister and ex-president of the National Assembly in Côte d’Ivoire begins. A French investigating judge has been appointed to investigate the conditions of the death of the man who was his companion in the fight before becoming his intimate enemy: Ibrahim Coulibaly, known as “IB”, killed in April 2011 in Abidjan.
Now 51 years old and in exile since his break with President Alassane Ouattara, Guillaume Soro is suspected, alongside five Ivorians and a Frenchman, of being responsible for his death. The complaint behind the investigation dates back to 2020 and among the civil parties are the daughter and one of the sisters of the deceased.
Read also: Ivory Coast: Guillaume Soro does not rule out being a presidential candidate in 2025
Between Guillaume Soro, former student leader, a time leader of the Student and School Federation of Côte d’Ivoire (Fesci), and Staff Sergeant “IB”, the agreement only lasted the first times of the rebellion triggered September 19, 2002, before giving way to nearly ten years of often bloody duel. Purge of pro “IB” rebels in 2004 in Bouaké, attack on Guillaume Soro’s plane in 2007 which he has always secretly attributed to his rival.
If Guillaume Soro, more political, was quick to gain the upper hand over the man who was once Alassane Ouattara’s bodyguard to put the rebellion and the « zone CNO » (Centre, North and West) that it controlled, Ibrahim Coulibaly returned to center stage during the post-electoral crisis of 2010-2011.
Coming out of his exile in Benin and Ghana, the man who made himself known to Ivorians as one of the instigators of General Robert Gueï’s putsch on December 24, 1999 reappeared in Abobo, one of the municipalities of Abidjan, in the head of one of the branches of the “invisible commando”. It was then a question of harassing the forces remained faithful to Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to recognize his defeat at the polls against Alassane Ouattara, and to prepare the ground for a descent towards the south of the country of the rebels of the New Forces (FN) .
From a good source, the objective in relaunching it is also for the new Ivorian power to limit the powers of Guillaume Soro, at the head of the former rebels and passed after the presidential election of Prime Minister from Laurent Gbagbo to that of Alassane Ouattara .
Read also: Ivory Coast: former Prime Minister Guillaume Soro sentenced to life imprisonment for “undermining state security”
But “IB” at the head of a few hundred men feels growing wings. He imagines himself for a few moments as the only one who can assume power, demands to be received in person by Alassane Ouattara before laying down his arms. ” I struggled for ten years to return to my country. It’s over, I’m not moving », he declares in front of the journalists from his stronghold when his requests are refused.
On the morning of April 27, when Laurent Gbagbo had already been arrested, “IB” finally refused to go to a third conciliation meeting. It’s one time too many. Several hundred members of the Republican Forces of Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI), heavily armed and led by Guillaume Soro’s FN, launched an assault on Abobo. A ” security and pacification operation “, swears in the hours that follow the spokesperson of the ministry, following which “IB” would have fled with a family of civilians hostage.
“Torture and Murder”
« The FRCI fired warning shots twice and he reacted with heavy fire, says the Ministry of Defence. The FRCI had no choice but to retaliate, and the response was fatal. “While the photograph of his mutilated corpse is not long in circulating, this version has always been refuted by those close to “IB”. ” He surrendered, then they tied him up and tortured him, before executing it summarily “, accused in 2011 a member of his family to our colleagues of Young Africa. It is this crucial question of surrender or not that the investigation should attempt to settle.
The delay between the facts and the opening of this investigation, more than twelve years, may be surprising. But it was not until May 2020 that Ibrahim Coulibaly’s daughter filed a complaint in France for ” torture and murder “, after Guilllaume Soro resigned from the National Assembly and therefore lost his parliamentary immunity. Me Robin Binsard, one of Mr. Soro’s lawyers, denounces ” a slanderous and political procedure, opportunely initiated in May 2020, almost nine years after the events and a few months before the Ivorian presidential election ».
Read also: Guillaume Soro targeted by a complaint in Paris for “torture” and “assassination”
This is in addition to other legal cases that weigh on his client. In disgrace of power for having displayed his ambitions a little too strongly and his incomprehension at not having been chosen by Alassane Ouattara to succeed him, Guillaume Soro was sentenced in absentia in Côte d’Ivoire to twenty years in prison in 2020, then to life imprisonment the following year for ” breach of state security ».
The World App
The Morning of the World
Every morning, find our selection of 20 articles not to be missed
Download the app
Also deprived of his civic rights, the former prime minister now lives in exile, taking care to maintain the mystery surrounding his activities and his intentions. Only one remains obvious: he still aspires to become President of the Republic.
To return to Abidjan, which seems inconceivable as long as Alassane Ouattara is in power, he will certainly have to avoid Paris on the way back. The French authorities discreetly asked him to leave the territory after his call for an uprising by the army when the head of state was re-elected for a third term in November 2020. And there is no doubt that if this time a French judge asked to question him, as was the case regarding the violence suffered by Michel Gbagbo after his arrest, the Ivorian presidency will do nothing to exfiltrate him.