Supporters of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo and former rebel leader Guillaume Soro on Monday filed their candidacies for a tense presidential election in October. The exiled leaders' candidatures added to those of incumbent president Al...
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Supporters of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo and former rebel leader Guillaume Soro on Monday filed their candidacies for a tense presidential election in October.
The exiled leaders' candidatures added to those of incumbent president Alassane Ouattara and former president Henri Konan Bedie — when the top Catholic leader warned the country was reaching a dangerous point.
Both Gbagbo and Soro had been barred from running because of convictions in the country's courts by the electoral commission.
"We've just submitted the candidacy file for our political chief, President Laurent Gbagbo, Ivory Coast 's father of democracy," said Georges-Armand Ouegnin, chairman of the pro-Gbagbo alliance, Together for Democracy and Sovereignty (EDS).
In absentia, Gbagbo, 75, was sentenced last November to a 20-year term for plundering the Central Bank of West African States local branch during the post-election crisis.
If he set foot in Ivory Coast he may be jailed.
Ouegnin said it was a political decision to block Gbagbo from running, calling for the release of all political prisoners and for the return of political exiles, including Gbagbo.
But Ibrahime Coulibaly-Kuibiert, the president of the Independent Electoral Commission, said that anybody convicted of a crime can not appeal it.
Previously, the courts supported the body's stance and judicial sources said they agreed that it was impossible that his nomination would be upheld.
Soro camp cries foul
The nation is also scarred by a dispute that erupted after the vote in 2010, when Gbagbo declined to hand over power to the victor, new President Alassane Ouattara. In several months of terror, nearly 3,000 people have lost their lives.
Having been convicted by the International Criminal Court, Gbagbo reportedly lives in the Belgian capital Brussels. He was conditionally released by ICC after being convicted of crimes against humanity in 2019, an appeal is being lodged by a ruling prosecutor.
He has not made any public announcement as to whether he intends to run again.
In the meantime, Soro 's relatives and followers, a rebel leader who had been prime minister, called for confirmation of his candidacy.
Aminata Kone-Zie, Soro's spokeswoman, accused the government of subterfuge "to make our president (Soro) unavailable for an alleged criminal conviction"
Faced with a long list of legal problems at home, Soro, 48, was forced into exile in France.
In April he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for "hiding the embezzlement of public funds."
A former Ouattara ally, Soro was a leader in a 2002 Gbagbo revolt that sliced the former French colony into the rebel-held north and the government-controlled south and triggered years of unrest.
'Radicalisation of positions
Last week, President Ouattara, 75, and former President Bedie, 86, submitted their papers on their candidacy.
Violence erupted following Ouattara 's announcement that he was seeking a third term, in August claiming the lives of at least eight people.
Although the Constitution limits presidents to two terms, Ouattara and his supporters argue that the clock is reset by a constitutional tweak in 2016.
Cardinal Jean-Pierre Kutwa, head of the Catholic Church in the country, warned Monday the country is approaching a "dangerous turn."
He said the candidacy of Ouattara "is not necessary," adding his duty as guarantor of the constitution is to "take the time to organize elections in a reconciliation-pacified environment."
We 're witnessing a radicalisation of positions from one side or the other as the presidential elections approach, "he warned.
"Since the president's declaration of candidacy these have become even more pronounced."
The cardinal requested that all sides move towards mediation.
The election of October 31 in the world's top cacao growers comes after years of political instability and civil war