Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire appoints Patrick Achi as Prime Minister | Political news
Patrick Achi had been acting Prime Minister after the hospitalization of his predecessor Hamed Bakayoko for cancer.
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara on Friday appointed a close confidant, Patrick Achi, as Prime Minister, following the death of the second Prime Minister of the West African country in less than eight months.
Achi, Ouattara’s former chief of staff, has been acting prime minister since Hamed Bakayoko, 56, was hospitalized this month with cancer. Bakayoko died on March 10.
Achi’s appointment was announced in a brief statement by Ouattara’s current chief of staff, Fidel Sarassoro.
Bakayoko’s death was another twist in a time of political turmoil for Côte d’Ivoire. He was appointed prime minister in July after the death of his predecessor, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, from a heart attack.
Gon Coulibaly was slated to be the ruling party’s candidate for the October 31, 2020 presidential election. However, his sudden death led outgoing President Alassane Ouattara to run for office and win a controversial third term, claiming that a constitutional amendment by 2016 had reset the two-term deadline.
Opposition to Ouattara’s candidacy, which was based on a contested interpretation of constitutional term limits, led to unrest before and after the vote in which at least 85 people were killed. It was the worst violence in the country since the 2010-11 civil war.
Achi and his government will need to tackle social tensions and take action to support the economy as it recovers from the impact of the coronavirus. Economic growth slowed to less than 2% in 2020, down from 6.5% a year earlier.
Achi, born in Paris to an Ivorian father and a French mother, was previously a member of the once monolithic Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI), which is today the main opposition group.
His long ministerial career dates back to 2000, when he was minister of economic infrastructure and government spokesperson when Laurent Gbagbo was president.
He held this portfolio for 17 consecutive years under five prime ministers, before being appointed secretary general to the presidency by Ouattara.
“He has been a very well-known political figure over the past two turbulent decades,” political scientist Rodrigue Kone told AFP news agency. “He can talk to everyone.”
Ouattara forced Gbagbo to step down in 2011 after a post-election civil war that claimed the lives of several thousand people and left the country deeply divided.
After his deportation, Gbagbo was airlifted to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to face war crime charges stemming from the conflict.
He was acquitted in January 2019 and now lives in Brussels awaiting the outcome of an appeal from the ICC prosecutor.