Ivory Coast Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly dies at 61

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Mr. Amadou Gon Coulibaly, Prime Minister of Ivory Coast has passed away in Abidjan at age 61, the government has confirmed

“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 the Council of Ministers,” President Alassane Ouattara said in a statement read on state media by the secretary-general of the presidency, Patrick Achi. The PM became unwell during a weekly cabinet meeting and was taken to a hospital where he passed away.

Mr. Gon Coulibaly died on Wednesday, just days after returning from two months of medical treatment in France. He had undergone a heart transplant in 2012 and was in Paris for the insertion of a stent.

Upon return, stated at the airport that “I am back to take my place by the side of the president, to continue the task of developing and building our country.”

The late PM is the ruling party’s candidate in the country’s presidential election planned for October. He was chosen as the RHDP (Houphouetists Rally for Democracy and Peace) flag bearer after incumbent Alassane Quattara announced that he would not seek a third term.

The passing away of Mr. Gon Coulibaly is likely to set off a scramble within the governing RHDP party to replace him as its candidate in an election. Many across the nation and continent are hoping that incumbent Quattara will not step in to continue into a third term. There are concerns that it may lead a repeat of 2010 post-election violence that left some 3,000 people dead after then-president Laurent Gbagbo refused to acknowledge Ouattara’s victory in a run-off vote.

President Quattara took to Twitter late Wednesday to pay tribute the man he has described a a close associate for many years. “I salute the memory of a statesman, of great loyalty, devotion and love for the homeland. He embodied this young generation of Ivorian leaders of great skill and extreme loyalty to the Nation.” he wrote

President Macky Sall of Senegal also took to Twitter late Wednesday to express his condolences to President Quattara, the late PM’s family and the Ivorian people.

According to his official biography, Coulibaly leaves behind a wife and five children.

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