I.Coast's ex-president Bedie buried 10 months after death

Henri Konan Bedie was buried in his native village ten months after his death (Issouf SANOGO)
Henri Konan Bedie was buried in his native village ten months after his death (Issouf SANOGO)

Ivory Coast's former president Henri Konan Bedie was laid to rest Saturday in his native village 10 months after his death.

Delegations representing ethnic groups from all over the country travelled to the eastern village of Pepressou to pay last respects to Bedie, who was commonly known by his initials HKB.

Since Monday, thousands of mourners have flocked to Pepressou which usually has a population of several hundred.

Bedie succeeded Ivory Coast's post-colonial founding father, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, as president from 1993 to 1999 -- when he was overthrown by the military in the country's first-ever coup.

While still president of the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast, the country's oldest party, Bedie passed away on August 1, 2023.

Organising the funeral has taken time due to the process of choosing a date and organising details of the funeral among his family and the chiefs of his Baule ethnic group.

His status as a former president also prolonged the process as ceremonies had to be prepared at the PDCI headquarters and the presidential palace in Abidjan where a tribute was paid to him on May 24.

- 'He was our father' -

Attendance at the funeral in Pepressou peaked during the final religious and traditional vigils on Friday, followed by a mass and a private burial on Saturday.

"Despite his age and his busy schedule he would visit us," said Komenan Attou, a farmer in the village, who praised the "man of peace who supported the population".

Nina Aya Ipou, a hairdresser in the village, was on the verge of tears when she spoke  about HKB.

"He was our father, he did so much for us. I'm at a loss for words," she said.

She added: "He built houses for us, he gave jobs to young people. He helped me in my hairdressing salon."

Dozens of houses were built in Pepressou during HKB's presidency and there were plans for a residence for the former leader.

The construction of the building, now abandoned and overgrown with weeds, began in 1996 but was interrupted by the coup in 1999.

Born on May 5, 1934 into a family of cocoa planters, HKB was also a minister and president of the National Assembly before becoming head of state.

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