Ivory Coast has reportedly issued an arrest warrant for former rebel leader and ex-Prime Minister Guillaume Soro who is seeking to run in next year’s presidential election reported Reuters.
Mr. Soro, who was on his way to Ivory Coast on Monday after staying abroad for several months, diverted his flight and landed in Ghana as security forces stormed his party headquarters in Abidjan.
Public prosecutor Richard Adou said on state television that an arrest warrant had been issued over Soro’s “attempt against the state authority.” He claimed that intelligence services had evidence that Soro was going to implement a plan soon.
He said Soro was also under investigation for embezzlement of public funds and money laundering for amounts up to 1.5 billion CFA francs ($2.4 million). Mr. Soro has denied all the allegations.
The prosecutor said fifteen of Soro’s supporters, including Alain Lobognon, were also detained on Monday on different charges.
The security forces had to fire tear gas on Monday afternoon to disperse more than 100 supporters who had gathered outside Soro’s headquarters in the commercial capital, Abidjan.
Soro’s arrest warrant has raised tensions in the West African country, where a 2010-2011 election ended in deadly violence between rival supporters. About 3,000 people were killed in the violence in the Ivory Coast that followed the victory of President Alassane Ouattara in a 2010 election.
The 47-year-old, Soro, led the rebels who tried and failed to oust then-president Laurent Gbagbo in 2002. His forces helped install Ouattara in the presidency in 2010.
Soro was a former ally of President Ouattara, but the two fell out earlier this year. Ouattara is now widely expected to back his prime minister, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, in the 2020 presidential election scheduled for October.
However, last month, Ouattara said he would run for another term if his predecessors, Gbabgo and Henri Konan Bedie, were candidates. Some of his opponents have said that would violate constitutional term limits.