Ivory Coast’s Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly has died. He was 61.
Coulibaly had recently returned from France, where he had spent the last two months being treated for a heart condition.
“I am deeply saddened to announce that Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, Head of the Government, left us, at the beginning of the afternoon, after having [taken] part in the Council of Ministers on Wednesday 8 July 2020, at the Palais de la Presidency of the Republic,” a statement issued by President Alassane Ouattara read in part. “I would like, on behalf of the Government and on my own behalf, to present my most sad condolences to the big family Gon Coulibaly, to all allied families as well as all Ivorians.”
Ouattara referred to Coulibaly as his “closest collaborator,” over a friendship spanning more than three decades.
The country remains in mourning, but Coulibaly’s death also brings about an air of uncertainty for the ruling political party.
In March, Ouattara announced he would not run in the upcoming election in October. He has spent two five-year terms in office. At the time, he had recommended Coulibaly as the RHDP party’s candidate. Following Coulibaly’s death, the party is in search of a replacement.
“All options are on the table, including a new candidacy for President Ouattara,” Adama Bictogo, RHDP executive secretary, told reporters this week. “It’s clear we have to revisit the analysis he made at the time. The context is new.”
Marie-Roger Biloa, chief executive director of the Africa International Media Group, stated she expected “a lot of tensions” in the Ivory Coast ahead of October’s election according to Al Jazeera.
“With this opening, all the political forces will feel that it is a signal to come up with their own ambitions,” she said. “President Ouattara will say, well the constitution allows me to run again, and then we also have a former president who is 86 years old who is running.”
The Times reports that the party may ask Ouattara to run for a third term to quell potential civil and political unrest. Bictogo said the RHDP would announce its new candidate a week after Gon Coulibaly’s funeral on Tuesday.