Ivory Coast Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, who was the ruling party’s candidate for October’s presidential election, died on Wednesday aged 61, the presidency said.
“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 Ivory Coast last week after a two-month absence in France to receive medical treatment for recurring heart problems.
He was announced 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.
“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.
“I salute the memory of a statesman, a man of great loyalty, dedication and love for his homeland,” he added.
Following the closure of Ivory Coast’s borders due to the coronavirus pandemic, Coulibaly — who had a heart transplant in 2012 — travelled to France on May 2 for medical care.
He received a stent about a week after arriving in France following an exam of his coronary arteries.
“I am back to take my place by the side of the president, to continue the task of developing and building our country, Ivory Coast,” Coulibaly said on arrival at the airport in the country’s main city Abidjan last Thursday.