Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, the presidential candidate of Ivory Coast’s ruling party, died Wednesday just days after returning from two months of medical treatment in France, where he previously had undergone a heart transplant.
Coulibaly’s death throws the upcoming presidential election into disarray, raising concerns about who now will represent the party of President Alassane Ouattara, who is required to step down after his second term.
Coulibaly, 61, had not spoken publicly about why he went to France back in May, where he previously underwent a heart transplant. Many speculated that his health problems were related to the 2012 operation.
He was expected to be RHDP presidential candidate in March after president Ouattara announced that he would not seek a third term.
Coulibaly served as the prime minister since January 2017 after serving as secretary general of the presidency for six years.
His death was announced by the country’s president, Alassane Ouattara.
“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 on national television by the presidency’s secretary-general on Wednesday, July 8.
“I salute the memory of a statesman, a man of great loyalty, dedication and love for his homeland,” added Ouattara.
Officials said Coulibaly was unwell during a ministerial meeting at the presidential palace in Abidjan and was rushed to a hospital where he passed away.