“Ivory Coast is mourning”, as President Alassan Ouattara said when announcing the death of Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly. Many citizens have taken to the social media to express sadness over the demise of the man who was expected to succeed Quattara in October’s presidential election.
Many analysts believe the death of Gon Coulibaly, 61, who had had heart surgery in 2012 and had just returned from cardiac examinations in France, will likely to set off a scramble within the ruling RHDP party to replace him as its presidential candidate.
Meanwhile leaders from Ivory Coast’s ruling party have agreed at a closed-door meeting late Wednesday to press President Alassane Ouattara to seek a third term in October’s election following the sudden death of Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, two sources said.
Ouattara announced in March that he would not stand for re-election after 10 years in office and designated Gon Coulibaly, his closest political ally, as the RHDP party’s candidate.
The election is expected to be the most hotly contested since 2010, when Ouattara’s victory over incumbent Laurent Gbagbo sparked a brief civil war in which 3,000 people died.
A small group of senior RHDP leaders, presided over by the party’s executive secretary, Adama Bictogo, met informally on Wednesday, said the two sources, both party members, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“We think unanimously that only President Ouattara can carry the flag. He alone can unite us,” said one of the sources. “It is true that he said he did not want to be a candidate, but the situation has changed.”
The deadline to submit the candidate’s name is July 31.The presidency declined to comment on Thursday.
“He has always been a unanimous choice within his own camp. But (running again) would be extremely dangerous, particularly vis-a-vis the opposition, which would find a common enemy,” said Rinaldo Depagne, International Crisis Group’s West Africa project director.
The RHDP candidate will face off against former President Henri Konan Bedie, who declared his candidacy last month, while other politicians could join the race ahead of the filing deadline.