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Former Ivorian foreign minister named PM

22 November 2012, 09:01

Abidjan - Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara on Wednesday appointed former foreign minister Daniel Kablan Duncan as prime minister of the troubled west African nation, a statement said.

The 69-year-old, a member of former president Henri Konan Bedie's PDCI party, was named to succeed Jeannot Kouadio Ahoussou after Ouattara dissolved the government on November 14.

Daniel Kablan Duncan, a trained economist, had already served as prime minister under Konan Bedie between 1993 and 1999.

Immediately after the announcement, Duncan thanked the president and Bedie for the "particularly important responsibility" in "a period everyone knows is tough", as the country tries to move on from post-electoral violence that left about 3,000 people dead between December 2010 to April 2011.

Ahoussou had only taken the helm of the government in March but had in recent days been widely tipped to be returned to the job.

The president's office had said a dissolution was necessary because of growing differences between the governing coalition's two main partners, Ouattara's RDR and the PDCI.

"Mr Ouattara told Ahoussou yesterday (Tuesday) that he would not remain prime minister and that Duncan was being appointed," a close aide to the president told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Ouattara has been leading the world's top cocoa-producing country since April 2011, when the deadly post-election crisis sparked by Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to concede defeat at the polls ended.

Post election crisis

Observers say Ahoussou had failed to make his mark on the political scene and was overshadowed by a powerful president, autonomous ministers and Guillaume Soro, his predecessor and ex-rebel chief who today heads the national assembly and maintains a powerful presence, especially on security matters.

Progress in Ivory Coast has been slow since the post-election crisis. The government has kickstarted the economy in Francophone west Africa's top economy, but the political and security situation remains unstable, national reconciliation is stalling and the crucial reform of the army remains in its infancy.

Between August and October, the regime has faced a wave of often-deadly attacks by security forces. Authorities accuse Gbagbo's camp of fomenting the violence, which it denies.

When Ouattara unexpectedly dissolved the government, his office blamed it on the PDCI and a smaller party voting against a draft marriage law that Ouattara had presented.

The contentious text gives both a man and woman equal footing in a marriage. It was eventually adopted on Wednesday.

Gbagbo was arrested in April last year and is now awaiting trial for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.



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