Ivory Coast's Ouattara names central banker as vice president

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara speaks next to his wife Dominique after casting their votes at a polling station during the presidential election in Abidjan, Ivory Coast October 31, 2020. [Reuters]


Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara has named Tiemoko Meyliet Kone, governor of the West African central bank, as his vice president in a possible clue to his succession plans.

The 80-year-old leader made the announcement during an address to parliament, days after Prime Minister Patrick Achi and his government resigned. Ouattara described Kone as an "outstanding technocrat" and "brilliant economist". 

Achi has been reappointed as Ivory Coast's prime minister, Senate President Jeannot Ahoussou-Kouadio subsequently told the joint session of both chambers of parliament on Tuesday.

Kone's appointment as vice president, a position that has been vacant since 2020, might suggest that Ouattara has him in mind as a potential successor.

The president's previously handpicked successor, former Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, died suddenly in July 2020.

Rather than choosing someone else, Ouattara ran for election again and won a third term in November that year.

Ouattara told parliament that Kone had been a dedicated leader of the West African regional central bank BCEAO, which issues and manages the CFA franc currency used by eight countries.

"He's a brilliant economist, a hard-working and competent man, who was involved in the reform of the CFA franc, which was a delicate operation," he said, noting that Kone had also held high-ranking government jobs in Ivory Coast in the past.

Ivory Coast is the world's top cocoa producer and one of West Africa's largest economies. Despite years of relative peace since a brief civil war in 2011, ethnic and regional rivalries linger.

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

Opposition groups said Ouattara violated the constitution, which limits presidents to two terms, when he ran again in 2020. Ouattara maintained that the approval of a new constitution in 2016 allowed him to restart his mandate.

The next presidential election will be in 2025.