Ivory Coast Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, who was to be the ruling party's candidate in October's presidential election, died Wednesday less than a week after returning from France, where he had been staying for health reasons.
"Fellow compatriots, Ivory Coast is mourning. It is with deep pain that I announce to you that Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly has left us," President Alassane Ouattara's spokesperson said during a national television appearance.
Ouattara himself tweeted his own message, saying "my younger brother, my son, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, who was, for 30 years, my closest partner. I salute the memory of a statesman of great loyalty, devotion and love for his country," Ouattara said.
Gon Coulibaly was 61. He died Wednesday, shortly after complaining during a Cabinet meeting that he wasn't feeling well. He had undergone heart surgery in 2012.
Gon Coulibaly had previously served as presidential secretary-general and agriculture minister.
Ouattara handpicked Gon Coulibaly as the ruling RHDP candidate for the October election after declining to run for another term. It is unclear who will replace him.
The only other major candidate at this time is 86-year-old former president Henri Konan Bedie.