Ivory Coast's Ouattara names confidant Achi as prime minister

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Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara named a close confidant, Patrick Achi, as prime minister on Friday, following the death of the West African country's second premier in less than eight months.

Achi, Ouattara's former chief of staff, has served as interim prime minister since Hamed Bakayoko, 56, was hospitalised this month with cancer. Bakayoko died on March 10.

Achi's nomination was announced in a brief statement by Ouattara's current chief of staff, Fidel Sarassoro.

Bakayoko's death was another twist in a period of political turbulence for Ivory Coast.

Ouattara ran for and won a third term last October after his then-prime minister and chosen successor, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, died in July.

Opposition to Ouattara's candidacy, which relied on a contested interpretation of constitutional term limits, led to unrest before and after the vote that killed at least 85 people. It was the country's worst violence since a 2010-2011 civil war.

Achi and his government will need to address social tensions and take steps to support the economy as it recovers from the impact of the coronavirus. Economic growth slowed to below 2% in 2020 from 6.5% a year earlier.

Achi, 65, studied in Paris and got his start in government in the late 1990s with Ivory Coast's national electricity company, where he served as chairman of the board.

(REUTERS)