Former Ivory Coast President Henri Konan Bedie, part of an old guard of politicians who dominated politics in the West African nation for a generation, has died aged 89, a close relative has said.
Bedie served as Ivory Coast’s second ever president after independence from France in 1960. He ruled from 1993 until an economic slump and allegations of corruption led to his ouster in a military coup in 1999.
He was long remembered – and in some parts reviled – for his role in promoting the issue of “ivoirite”, or Ivorian identity, which fueled tensions between those who considered themselves natives in the south and east, and the many foreign workers from neighbouring countries long settled in the country’s north.
Bedie remained in politics until the end. At 86, he ran a losing race against longtime political rival President Alassane Ouattara in elections in 2020.
The death of the leader of the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast-African Democratic Rally (PDCI-RDA) was also confirmed to newsmen by a relative, but the cause was not immediately known.
According to local reports, the former president was airlifted from his hometown of Daoukro, 230km (145 miles) north of Abidjan, after falling ill on Tuesday.