March 12, 2012 / 3:33 PM / in 6 years

Ivory Coast's Soro elected head of parliament

ABIDJAN, March 12 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast’s ex-rebel chief Guillaume Soro was elected head of the West African state’s new parliament on Monday, four days after resigning as prime minister.

The move will allow Soro to retain a high profile in Ivorian politics while letting President Alassane Ouattara keep a campaign promise of naming a prime minister from the PDCI party of Henri Konan Bedie, which backed him in the 2010 elections.

Soro was the only candidate nominated for the job, regarded as Ivory Coast’s second most powerful behind that of president, giving him significant influence on the shape of bills to be signed into law.

Ouattara is expected to name his new prime minister and government shortly, one of the last steps in returning the country to normalcy after a post-election civil war last year that killed 3,000 people.

Soro, 39, had held the position of prime minister for five years, initially under a unity government headed by ousted leader Laurent Gbagbo. He had previously led rebel fighters from Ivory Coast’s north, the group that ultimately toppled Gbagbo last April with U.N. and French backing.

Soro won the legislative vote in the capital Yamoussoukro with 236 out of 249 votes. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Karolina Tagaris)

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