Former Ivory Coast rebel leader Guillaume Soro has confirmed he will contest the presidential election set for next year, reported Bloomberg.
The 47-year-old Soro made the announcement during a meeting with some of his supporters in Valencia, Spain.
“There are pro-Soro parties that have chosen me as a candidate, so yes, I will be a candidate,” he said.
Soro is the first to announce his candidacy, other opposition challengers are yet to officially announce their candidature.
The statement comes after President Ouattara hinted that he is likely to run for a third term in 2020. The 77-year-old has said he seeks to hand over power to someone from the younger generation it the 2020 election, but he has also argued that a constitutional change in 2016 cancels out previous term limits, so he could stand again.
After stiff with the government, Soro resigned as President of the National Assembly and launched a political movement earlier this year. He has been touring Europe and meeting Ivorians in the diaspora in recent months to mobilize support.
Notably, the former rebel and former prime minister had previously led the rebels that tried and failed to oust former President Laurent Gbagbo in 2002. The country was divided for nearly a decade until a second civil war in 2010-11 led to the setting of Alassane Ouattara in the presidency. About 3,000 people died in the 2010-11 civil war.
But Soro has since fallen out with Ouattara. There is also a chance that the rebel leader could be up against Gbagbo, the president his rebels ousted from power in 2011 after a disputed election, in the 2020 election.
Gbagbo, who was freed by the International Criminal Court in The Hague in February after being acquitted of war crimes during the civil war, has not yet confirmed if he is running in the election.