ABIDJAN— The Ivorian government has confirmed the death of Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, aged 61 in the capital Abidjan, on Wednesday.
The deceased returned home last week (July 2) after a two-month absence during which period he was receiving medical treatment in France. Coulibaly is a close ally of Ouattara and has held the Prime Minister portfolio since 2017.
He was the presidential candidate of the ruling Rally of Republicans party in upcoming polls meant to choose a new president as incumbent Alassane Ouattara leaves office after two terms. The party elected him as flag bearer in March 2020 for the October polls.
“I am back home to take my place at the President’s side, to continue the work of development and construction of our country, Côte d’Ivoire,” Coulibaly said upon his return.
He had been part of a cabinet meeting Wednesday morning according to reports. His official Twitter handle posted messages lauding the efforts and leadership of Ouattara.
The 61-year-old, who had heart surgery in 2012, became unwell during a weekly cabinet meeting and was taken to a hospital where he passed away on Wednesday, President Alassane Ouattara said in a statement read on national television.
“Fellow compatriots, Ivory Coast is mourning. It is with deep pain that I announce to you that Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly has left us,” Ouattara said in a statement read by the presidency’s secretary-general.
Gon Coulibaly had returned to Ivory Coast last Thursday after two months in France to undergo a heart exam and rest.
Gon Coulibaly’s death is likely to set off a scramble within the governing RHDP party to replace him as its candidate in an election that is considered a key test of stability for the world’s top cocoa producer.
Ouattara’s first win in 2010 over incumbent Laurent Gbagbo sparked a brief civil war in which about 3,000 people died, and political tensions have been rising ahead of October’s poll.
Ouattara designated Gon Coulibaly as the RHDP candidate in March after announcing he would not seek a third term.
Gon Coulibaly sought medical care in France in May, saying it was only for a checkup. He was allowed to travel abroad despite Ivory Coast’s airports being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Source: Nam News Network (NNN)