The passing of Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly at age 61 heightens the volatility and uncertainty surrounding Ivory Coast’s presidential election in October. Gon Coulibaly was the presumed successor of the current ruling party and President Alassane Outtara—once Ouattara announced that he wouldn’t be running for a third term. Gon Coulibaly had recently returned from France, where he is said to have undergone heart surgery and treatment.
The prime minister’s passing now opens the door to rivals of the current ruling party in what was already expected to be a bitterly contested election. Potential candidates include former Ouattara ally Guillaume Soro and former presidents Henri Konan Bedie and Laurent Gbagbo.
The last Ivory Coast presidential election in 2010 was highly contentious and ended with Ouattara ousting Gbagbo after a brief civil war. Although Outtata won the vote, Gbagbo refused to cede power and sought a military coup to overturn the election results.
An export embargo and pressure from the international community eventually saw power transition, but the aftermath left thousands dead and the economy in shambles. With cocoa beans unable to be shipped during peak season, the futures price of cocoa spiked as high as $3,750 per MT in the aftermath of what was described as a semi-failed election.