‘New political battle’
Bakayoko was appointed prime minister in July last year after his predecessor, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, died of a heart attack. Gon Coulibaly was slated to be the governing party’s candidate for the October 31, 2020, presidential election, but his sudden death led incumbent President Alassane Ouattara to run and win a controversial third term arguing a 2016 constitutional amendment reset the clock on the two-term limit.
Now, it is the death of Bakayoko – seen as a frontrunner to succeed Ouattara – that leaves a void in Ivory Coast’s political scene and raises the stakes in the succession battle.
“It’s a big blow for Ouattara,” said Sylvain N’Guessan, political analyst and director of the Abidjan Strategy Institute, adding that the president, who has lost two potential successors within eight months, will now struggle to find his replacement.
“Granted it’s four years until the next presidential election, Bakayoko’s death still disrupts Ouattara’s plans.”
Without a clear successor, political manoeuvering within the governing RDHP party will become more intense in the next few years as “party power brokers” hope to succeed Ouattara in the 2025 presidential election, Tochi Eni-Kalu, an Africa analyst with United States-based Eurasia Group said in an emailed note.
Selay Kouassi, an Abidjan-based political reporter, said Bakayoko’s death “will open a new political battle”.
“It changes the stakes,” he added.