(Bloomberg) -- Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara pledged to keep the country safe as the government sought the arrest of Guillaume Soro, a lawmaker and candidate in next year’s election, for allegedly plotting a coup.
“No one will be allowed to destabilize Ivory Coast or disturb the serenity of Ivorians,” Ouattara told reporters in Abidjan, the commercial capital, on Saturday. “The law will apply to everyone, candidate or not. The candidacy isn’t yet open at the independent electoral commission.”
Soro, a 47-year-old who is one of Ivory Coast’s youngest and most influential opposition politicians, is being sought for endangering state security, embezzlement of public funds and money-laundering. He was scheduled to come back to Ivory Coast on Dec. 23 after spending months in Europe meeting Ivorians to build support for his political movement, but he hasn’t returned.
Ouattara came to power in 2010 helped by Soro and his Nouvelles Forces rebels. Soro was long seen as a likely successor to Ouattara, who’s due to step down in 2020, but was sidelined in 2017 after a new constitution created the post of vice president. While Ivory Coast has a limit of two terms, Ouattara has said the new constitution “resets the clock” allowing him to run again.
Soro resigned as parliament speaker earlier this year and created his own political party after falling out with Ouattara. He announced his intention to run for president in 2020 at a press conference in Spain in October, possibly challenging the candidate of Ouattara’s ruling.
--With assistance from Leanne de Bassompierre.
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