Prime Minister Gon Coulibaly of Ivory Coast has died at the age of 61.
In a statement on Wednesday, Patrick Achi, a spokesman at the Ivorian presidency, said Coulibaly became unwell during a weekly cabinet meeting and was evacuated to a hospital where he passed away.
According to Reuters, President Alassane Ouattara handpicked Coulibaly to succeed him later this year.
The deceased, who was nominated candidate of the ruling Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace Party (RHDPP) in March, had returned to the country on July 2 after a prolonged stay in France.
He had traveled regularly to France since having a heart surgery in 2012.
Despite his prolonged hospitalisation in Paris, the ruling party’s executive director had said there was no “plan B” to Coulibaly.
When he returned to the country last Thursday, he had said: “I am back to take my place by the side of the president, to continue the task of developing and building our country.”
One of Ouattara’s most trusted aides, Coulibaly served as agriculture minister from 2002 to 2010 and as secretary general of the presidency from 2011 until his 2017 appointment as prime minister.
In a nationwide broadcast on Wednesday, Ouattara said: “I pay tribute to my little brother, my son, who for more than 30 years has been my closest ally.”
Ivory Coast now has four months to nominate a successor to the outgoing president.