Ivory Coast Parliament Speaker to Cooperate in French Probe

  • Soro to remain in Paris, asks France to file official request
  • Cooperation to depend on France following diplomatic rules

Ivory Coast’s parliamentary speaker, Guillaume Soro, is willing to cooperate with an investigation by a French judge as long as diplomatic rules are followed, his lawyers and spokesman said.

Soro has no immediate plans to leave Paris where is he representing the West African nation at the United Nations climate talks, Moussa Toure, his spokesman, said by phone. Earlier, his attorneys confirmed in an e-mailed statement that a French judge had issued a warrant for him to discuss a case tied to post-election violence in 2011.

While Soro has diplomatic immunity, he is willing to cooperate with the judge if a formal request that follows diplomatic protocol is sent to the Ivorian government, Toure said.

“Soro will follow his planned schedule,” Toure said. “He is not a fugitive.”

A French judge is investigating accusations made by Michel Gbagbo that Soro and fighters under his command illegally detained him and treated him inhumanely in April 2011. Gbagbo was arrested with his father, former President Laurent Gbagbo. Soro was prime minister at the time.

A former rebel leader, Soro headed the Forces Nouvelles fighters who seized the northern half of the country after a failed 2002 coup. He became prime minister in a 2007 peace deal under then-president Laurent Gbagbo and continued to serve under his successor Alassane Ouattara. He resigned in 2012 to become speaker of the National Assembly.

The accusations have yet to be proven, Soro’s lawyers said in the statement. A French-Ivorian national, Michel Gbagbo was freed in 2013. The elder Gbagbo is awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity. Five years ago, his refusal to acknowledge he’d lost a presidential election to Ouattara triggered a brief civil war that left more than 3,000 people dead. Ivory Coast is the word’s biggest cocoa producer.

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