Ivory Coast Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly died Wednesday after attending a cabinet meeting, just three months before presidential elections that he was due to contest. He was 61.
Coulibaly was the ruling RHDP coalition’s candidate for president in an election scheduled in October. He was appointed prime minister in 2017.
“I am deeply saddened to announce that Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, the head of government, left us early this afternoon after taking part in a cabinet meeting,” Patrick Achi, secretary general to the Ivory Coast presidency, said on public television.
Coulibaly returned to the West African country last week after a two-month stay in France to receive medical treatment for recurring heart problems.
His death creates huge uncertainty over the election in the world’s top cocoa grower, which has returned to normalcy after years of political turbulence and a low-level civil war.
He was named as the candidate for President Alassane Ouattara’s party in early March, after Ouattara ended months of speculation and said he would not seek a controversial third term.
Ouattara in 2011 ousted the then-president, Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to step down after losing elections in a standoff that triggered violence that claimed some 3,000 lives. He has served two terms.
“I pay tribute to my younger brother, my son Amadou Gon Coulibaly, who was my closest collaborator for 30 years,” Ouattara said in a statement.