Côte d’Ivoire: Hamed Bakayoko appointed Prime Minister

The current Ivorian Minister of Defense was appointed head of government by President Alassane Ouattara on Thursday. He succeeds Amadou Gon Coulibaly, who died suddenly on July 8.

Since the disappearance of Amadou Gon Coulibaly, Hamed Bakayoko was acting head of government. He now officially takes over the post of Prime Minister while keeping his defense portfolio. A position he has held since July 2017.

This close associate of President Ouattara has been a member of his cabinet since the latter came to power in April 2011. Prior to Defense, he was head of the Ministry of the Interior and Security for more than six years.

Along with Amadou Gon Coulibaly, Hamed Bakayoko appeared to be one of the favorites to be the candidate of the ruling party in the presidential election next October. But in the end, it was the former Prime Minister who was designated in March 2020 to defend the RHDP colors. The party has now rallied behind the outgoing president, asking him to run for a third term.

At 55 years of age, the new head of the Ivorian government is a long-time associate of President Alassane Ouattara. Hamed Bakayoko has been committed to the RDR (Rassemblement des Républicains), Alassane Ouattara’s party and ancestor of the RHDP, since its creation in 1994.

Since the month of May and the hospitalization and then death of the presidential candidate, Hamed Bakayoko was acting as interim prime minister. Confirmation of his nomination was therefore awaited. It can indeed be explained first of all by the order of protocol. As Minister of Defense, the child of the North had become the number 2 in the government. But with three months to go before the presidential election, political reason takes over.

Bakayoko, head of government and Minister of Defense, suggests that the priority of the government is to ensure the security of the territory, both against terrorist intrusions, which are increasing in Côte d’Ivoire, and against possible violence linked to the election, which is unfortunately the usual pattern in the country.

Hamed Bakayoko’s unfailing loyalty also works in his favor. The 55-year-old man, who is also very popular with some of Côte d’Ivoire’s youth, was fed in the RDR. It was he who mainly arranged the grand funeral of the artist and icon DJ Arafat, who died almost a year ago.

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