Ivory Coast’s Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly was buried in a private ceremony at the end of a week of national mourning triggered by a death that stunned the West African country.
The 61-year-old, who had heart surgery in 2012, became unwell during a weekly cabinet meeting and was taken to a hospital where he passed away on July 8.
He was buried on Friday in the family tomb in his home town of Korhogo, the main city in the country’s north, a source close to his family said.
Funeral prayers were said earlier in the city’s main mosque, with several hundred mourners, including 78-year-old President Alassane Ouattara in attendance.
Gon Coulibaly died shortly after returning from France, where he had undergone long treatment for cardiac problems.
Nicknamed the Lion of Korhogo, he was highly popular in the city of his birth, where he was also a member of Parliament and mayor for a long time.
Gon Coulibaly “was a model”, said teacher El Hadj Bambadji Bamba, adding: “This is the funeral of a chief. We turned out in large numbers today. We had to be here, after everything that this man did for his country.”
Locals said infrastructure funds had flowed into Korhogo during his time in office.
“He tarmacked the main roads and the neighbourhoods, installed electricity throughout the city and the villages outside, gave us piped water and built schools and health centres,” said the local mayor, Lazani Coulibaly, who shares the same family name.
“He changed the face of the city – he achieved more in 10 years than people did in the previous 40.”
His death creates huge uncertainty over the election in Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa grower, which has returned to normalcy after years of political turbulence and a brief civil war that killed 3,000 people.
The ruling RHDP party is now expected to step up deliberations on how to fill the gap for the presidential vote, due on October 31.
In 2011, Ouattara overthrew then-President Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to step down after losing elections.
In March, Ouattara announced he would not seek a third term in office before naming Gon Coulibaly as his desired successor.