Ivory Coast vice president quits, days after PM’s death

Ivory Coast Vice President Daniel Kablan Duncan addresses the first Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) West Africa Regional summit at the Sofitel Abidjan Hotel Ivoire in Abidjan, Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast Vice President Daniel Kablan Duncan has resigned, the presidency said on Monday, further unsettling the political outlook days after the sudden death of prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, President Alassane Ouattara’s preferred successor.

The death last week of Gon Coulibaly, hand-picked by Ouattara to run in October’s presidential election, has left the ruling party scrambling to find a replacement candidate, a process likely to reveal internal divisions, analysts say.

Duncan is leaving for “reasons of personal convenience”, Patrick Achi, a top aide to Ouattara, told reporters, adding that Duncan had first tendered his resignation in February.

“The president of the republic would like to pay tribute to a great servant of the state, a man of duty and commitment,” Achi said.

He said Ouattara had finally accepted Duncan’s resignation last Wednesday, the same day Gon Coulibaly, who had longstanding heart problems, died after a cabinet meeting.

Ouattara picked Gon Coulibaly in March to represent the RHDP party in the Oct. 31 poll after announcing he would not stand for a third term.

Ouattara came to power in 2011 following an election the previous year that sparked a brief civil war when the defeated incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to concede.

Despite several years of relative peace, ethnic and regional rivalries linger, and this year’s election is seen as test of stability for Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer and one of West Africa’s largest economies.

Following Gon Coulibaly’s death, Ouattara’s RHDP party said last week that it may ask the president to rethink his decision not to seek another term.

This could help to unify the party but would draw fierce criticism from Ouattara’s opponents, who say the constitution does not allow him to run again.

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