Ivory Coast Prime Minister Hamed Bakayoko has died, less than a year after being appointed to the position following the death of his predecessor. He was 56.
“I pay tribute to the Prime Minister, Hamed Bakayoko, my son and close collaborator, taken too soon,” Ouattara wrote. “Prime Minister Hamed Bakayoko served Ivory Coast with devotion and selflessness.”
Bakayoko, who also served as defense minister, became the country’s second highest-ranked official after the sudden death in July of then-Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, two months after he was evacuated to France for medical treatment.
The death of Gon Coulibaly, who had been the governing party’s presidential candidate, led Ouattara to reverse an earlier decision not to seek a third term and then win the October vote.
The 79-year-old leader said in August he needed more time to groom a new generation of leaders within the ruling Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace. Bakayoko, a former publisher, was widely seen as a front-runner to succeed him at the end of his current term.
Bakayoko, who drew his political support from mainly working-class voters, was also a legislative candidate to represent the diamond-rich Seguela constituency in the country’s north. He won the seat in absentia after March 6 elections.
He is survived by his wife, Yolande Tanoh, and four children