Ivory Coast PM quits, new govt next week: president

Ivory Coast PM quits, new govt next week: president

The reshuffle had been widely expected at a time of looming austerity, although some speculate that Achi may be reappointed to the job.

Agency Report

Ivory Coast's prime minister resigned on Wednesday ahead of a new "streamlined" government that will take shape next week, President Alassane Ouattara announced.

Speaking at premier Patrick Achi's final cabinet meeting, Ouattara said he had accepted the government's resignation and would "from next week appoint a new prime minister who will come to me to propose a streamlined government."

"I have decided to reduce the number of government ministers in order to strengthen government effectiveness bearing in mind the current world economic situation," he said.

"It is crucial to reduce state spending and steer it towards social and security resilience."

The reshuffle had been widely expected at a time of looming austerity, although some speculate that Achi may be reappointed to the job.

Ouattara paid tribute to the outgoing prime minister.

"Throughout the past year, despite the exceptional conditions arising from the pandemic as well as the complex regional security environment, you have demonstrated commitment and determination," he said.

Achi was appointed last April after his predecessor Hamed Bakayoko died of cancer the previous month.

Bakayoko himself succeeded Amadou Gon Coulibaly, who died suddenly in July 2020.

Last month, the government placed a ceiling on the price of around 20 staple products, such as rice and sugar.

It is also worried that jihadists who have launched a bloody campaign in the Sahel region to Ivory Coast's north are seeking to push southwards towards the Gulf of Guinea.

Ouattara, aged 80, has been in power since he won elections in 2010, whose disputed outcome sparked a brief but bloody civil conflict.

- Succession question -

The question of his succession has been at the heart of long-running political tensions.

In a scheduled state-of-the-nation speech next Tuesday, he may appoint a vice president, the Africa Intelligence news site reported.

The post, scheduled under the constitution, has been vacant for nearly two years.

"It would be an opportune moment for Mr. Ouattara to shuffle the deck by placing lieutenants in key positions -- a vice president, a prime minister, a cabinet secretary at the presidency -- to see which one turns out to be the best presidential material," said political analyst Sylvain N'Guessan.

The death of his anointed successor Coulibaly in July 2020 forced Ouattara to stave off plans to retire after two terms in office.

Instead, he dusted off a bid for a third presidential term -- a plan that critics said sidestepped term limits under the constitution.

Scores of people died in election-related violence, and the country's main opposition boycotted the polls.

In its aftermath, Ouattara ushered in his former rival and predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo, who has played the role of elder statesman in a declared effort of national reconciliation.

AFP

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