Defense Minister Hamed Bakayoko has been named prime minister of Ivory Coast after his predecessor died suddenly last month. The country’s President, Alassane Ouattara, appointed Bakayoko.
Former prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly died on July 8, 2020, just days after returning from two months of medical treatment in France. He was 61 at the time of his death.
Before his death, Coulibaly was the ruling party’s favorite candidate for October’s presidential election, after Ouattara said he would not seek a third term in office.
He had received a heart transplant in 2012 and traveled to Paris earlier this year for a stent installation. Coulibaly fell ill during a weekly cabinet meeting on July 8, and was taken to hospital where he later died from sudden cardiac arrest.
“I pay tribute to my younger brother, my son, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, who was for 30 years my closest partner,” the president said. “I salute the memory of a statesman of great loyalty, devotion and love for the homeland.”
Bakayoko previously served as interim prime minister during Coulibaly’s two-month absence in France.
The news comes days after the ruling RHDP party formally asked Ouattara to stand again, despite opponents insisting that he does not have the legal right to serve a third term.
Ouattara asked for some time to consider, informing party members that he would announce his decision in a public address on Aug. 6.
“You know I have never disappointed you,” he added.
Ivory Coast’s electoral commission has pledged a fair election, despite early signs of in-house discourse and tie-severings.
Last month, Marcel Amon-Tanoh, a longtime ally of Ouattara, broke away from the party and declared that he would run in October’s presidential election. The decision was prompted by Ouattara’s decision to appoint Bakayoko.
“We have built bridges, but we have forgotten to construct bridges between men,” he defiantly stated in a speech announcing his candidacy.