Ivory Coast’s Defence Minister, Hamed Bakayoko, was named Prime Minister on Thursday, after acting as interim premier since the sudden death of Amadou Gon Coulibaly on July 8, the presidency announced.
Considered a close associate of President Alassane Ouattara and a pillar of the regime, Bakayoko, 55, has had the defence portfolio since 2017, after serving as interior minister from 2011.
He has also been mayor of Abobo, one of the West African country’s most populous districts, since 2018.
“The President of the Republic has signed a decree appointing Mr Hamed Bakayoko as prime minister,” while he will keep his defence role, according to the presidency’s statement.
Bakayoko’s name had circulated as a potential presidential candidate before Gon Coulibaly was nominated in March as the ruling party’s candidate for presidential elections due in October.
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After Gon Coulibaly’s unexpected death from a heart attack, Bakayoko was appointed to serve as stand-in prime minister.
An emerging option for the looming election is that Ouattara could run for a third term — a choice that could spark accusations of abuse of democracy under the country’s two-term presidential limits.
Ouattara announced on Wednesday that he would defer his decision to the political council of his RHDP movement in Abidjan.
He and his supporters contend that a change to the constitution in 2015 gives him the right to seek a third term.
The 2020 presidential elections are set to be tense after years of political turbulence in the country.
Bakayoko was a founder member of the Rally of the Republicans (RDR) party in 1994 and was in charge of the party’s daily newspaper, Le Patriote. It is part of the RHDP coalition.
He was also minister of new information and communication technology in the national unity government from 2003 to 2011, during a decade of crisis in Ivory Coast.