Ivory Coast defence minister Hamed Bakayoko nominated as new prime minister

FILE PHOTO: Hamed Bakayoko, Ivory Coast’s new Defense minister, talks as he stands at the premises of the National Police Academy in the Cocody neighborhood in Abidjan, Ivory Coast July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara has appointed Defence Minister Hamed Bakayoko as prime minister after his predecessor died suddenly this month, the presidency said on Thursday.

The death of former Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly threw the ruling party into disarray ahead of October’s presidential election, as he had been handpicked to run as the candidate to succeed Ouattara.

Bakayoko, a former radio and newspaper executive and longtime ally of Ouattara, has been considered a possible replacement for Gon Coulibaly as the presidential candidate, but the ruling party on Wednesday formally asked Ouattara to run again.

Ouattara, who had announced in March that he would step down after a decade in office, said he would take some time before making a decision.

The 55-year-old Bakayoko has a reputation as a populist and a showman who holds rowdy campaign rallies where cash is distributed. Bakayoko will retain his position as defence minister in his new post, the statement said.

Reporting By Loucoumane Coulibaly; Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Aaron Ross and Alex Richardson

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