Guillaume Soro

Former Ivory Coast rebel leader, Guillaume Soro, has announced plans to run in the West African state’s presidential election scheduled for next year.

Guillaume Soro led the rebels that tried and failed to oust former President Laurent Gbagbo in 2002, dividing the country for nearly a decade until a second civil war in 2010-2011 installed Alassane Ouattara in the presidency instead.

But Soro has since fallen out with Ouattara and his candidacy could open fissures within the ruling coalition because the president is widely expected to back his prime minister, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, in the 2020 election.

“There are pro-Soro political parties that have already chosen me as their candidate, so I will be a candidate,” Soro said in a video posted on his Facebook page to supporters in Spain over the weekend.

President Ouattara on the other hand, has said he intends to hand over power to a younger generation at the 2020 election.

But has also argued that a constitutional change in 2016 cancels out previous term limits, so he could stand again.

Soro has served in the past as prime minister and speaker of parliament and still retains the loyalty of many former rebel commanders who now hold senior positions in the national army and control access to large stocks of weapons.

Ivory Coast is the world’s largest producer of cocoa and was the fastest growing economy in West Africa last year, thanks to its agriculture, construction and retail sectors.

Source: Reuters