Cote d'Ivoire

‘A great statesman’: Côte d’Ivoire PM Hamed Bakayoko dies in Germany

File Photo: Hamed Bakayoko attends a party congress in March 2015.
File Photo: Hamed Bakayoko attends a party congress in March 2015. © AFP - Sia Kambou

Côte d’Ivoire Prime Minister Hamed Bakayoko has passed away in a German hospital, just days after he celebrated his 56th birthday, authorities said. He was receiving treatment for cancer.

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President Alassane Ouattara said Bakayoko was "a great statesman", saying he had set an example to the youth and was particularly loyal.

Bakayoko sought medical treatment outside his own country in February, first flying to France for tests. He was then transferred to Germany when his condition worsened.

The 56-year-old worked in the media before he became a politician, eventually playing a significant role as peacemaker in Côte d’Ivoire’s civil war that began in 2002.

Issiaka Sangare, a spokesperson for the Ivorian opposition, described the deceased PM as a “major player” in the country’s reconciliation, according to AFP news agency.

He was made prime minister in July, after the abrupt death of former-PM Amadou Gon Coulibaly. Bakayoko also played a role as Côte d’Ivoire defence minister, holding the two portfolios for Ouattara.

'Stature, charisma'

In the interim, Patrick Achi, has been appointed temporarily as replacement prime minister, while Ouattara’s brother, Tene Birahima Ouattara has replaced Bakayoko as defence minister.

Bakayoko, known as “Hambak” by his supporters, was said to have stature and charisma. He spoke to everyone, even when Côte d’Ivoire was split into two irreconcilable camps.

A young Bakayoko progressed after getting his baccalaureate diploma. He became a student leader, journalist, radio boss, lawmaker, mayor and then obtained high office of state, as interior minister, defence minister and finally prime minister.

Some had pondered whether Bakayoko might consider presidential office, especially after the death of his predecessor. Although just a few weeks ago, he told reporters that he was quite happy as things were. “I like my life as it is,” he said.

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