Former Ivorian Prime Minister Guillaume Soro declared on Sunday evening that he would put an end to his self-imposed exile, which began in 2019. However, he did not specify a date for his potential return to his home country, where he faces a life sentence.
Mr. Soro, in a five-minute address posted on his social media account, stated, “I announce here and now that I am ending my exile because it is painful for me to live far from my ancestral and native land in Africa.”
In the video, where he appeared in a suit and tie with a graying beard, the 51-year-old Mr. Soro claimed that there was an attempt to apprehend him at Istanbul’s airport on November 3, with the intent of extraditing him to Côte d’Ivoire.
He reassured the public that he was in very good health.
He also detailed his travels over the past few years, which took him to France, Belgium, Dubai, and some Asian countries.
He accused Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara of initiating an international manhunt against him.
Guillaume Soro, who led the rebellion that controlled the northern half of the country in the 2000s, had militarily supported Alassane Ouattara’s rise to power during the post-electoral crisis of 2010–2011, when the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to concede defeat.
He subsequently became Mr. Ouattara’s first prime minister and later the president of the National Assembly in 2012. However, their relationship soured in early 2019, reportedly due to Mr. Soro’s presidential ambitions.
While already in exile, Guillaume Soro was sentenced in absentia in Abidjan in June 2021 to life imprisonment for “endangering state security” and accused of inciting a “civil and military insurrection” aimed at overthrowing Mr. Ouattara’s regime in 2019. His appeal was deemed inadmissible.