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Henri Konan Bédié, Ivory Coast President Deposed in a Coup, Dies at 89


Henri Konan Bédié, who served as president of Ivory Coast from 1993 till being deposed in a coup in 1999, however who remained an influence dealer amongst its typically violently aggressive political and ethnic factions, died on Tuesday in Abidjan, the nation’s largest metropolis. He was 89.

His demise, at a hospital, was introduced by his social gathering, the Democratic Occasion of Ivory Coast-African Democratic Rally. It didn’t present a trigger.

A person whose quiet confidence and back-room affect earned him the nickname “the Sphinx of Daoukro,” after his hometown, Mr. Bédié performed a dominant position in Ivorian politics over six a long time, because the nation gained independence from France in 1960.

Contemporary from regulation college at Poitiers College, in France, he was working as a counselor on the French embassy in Washington when the primary Ivorian president, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, named him the nation’s first ambassador to america and Canada.

Mr. Bédié introduced his credentials to President Dwight D. Eisenhower on Jan. 18, 1961, making him one of many final international diplomats to fulfill with the outgoing president — and, at 26, one of many youngest ambassadors ever to serve in Washington.

He returned house in 1965 to take over Ivory Coast’s financial and monetary affairs ministry and later function president of the Nationwide Meeting. Over the subsequent three a long time, he established himself because the inheritor obvious to Mr. Houphouët-Boigny and one of many rising stars of Sub-Saharan African politics.

Largely because of his financial insurance policies, Ivory Coast grew to become the area’s main agricultural exporter and an island of political stability. Per capita annual revenue grew to $610 in 1988 from $70 in 1960.

Mr. Houphouët-Boigny died in workplace in 1993, and as president of the Nationwide Meeting Mr. Bédié took his place as interim president.

With elections looming in 1995, he set about solidifying his maintain on energy. He pushed his closest rival, Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara, out of workplace, then handed a regulation stating that solely candidates with two Ivorian dad and mom might run for president — a restriction mentioned to be geared toward Mr. Ouattara, whose dad and mom had been rumored to have been born in neighboring Burkina Faso.

One other regulation, additionally mentioned to be geared toward Mr. Ouattara, restricted the presidency to individuals who had lived in Ivory Coast for the earlier 5 years — as soon as extra excluding Mr. Ouattara, who had lately frolicked in Washington working on the World Financial institution.

Each these legal guidelines had been rooted in Mr. Bédié’s notion of “ivoirité,” a type of nationalism that he claimed was meant to advertise unity however which his critics mentioned was supposed to foment division and to marginalize individuals from the nation’s Muslim-majority north, who tended to maneuver throughout nationwide borders looking for work.

“To realize peacefully the formidable leap between an ethnic consciousness and a nationwide consciousness, the reference mark of id should be robust, and that fastened level known as ivoirité,” Mr. Bédié wrote within the French journal Jeune Afrique in 1999.

After successful the 1995 election with 96 % of the vote, Mr. Bédié cracked down additional, jailing journalists and leaders of opposition events, particularly after rumors arose that his mom had been born in Ghana, making him ineligible for the presidency below his personal regulation.

Mr. Houphouët-Boigny had exhibited his personal authoritarian streak, however he was gregarious and broadly admired, and he had been in energy throughout an financial increase. Mr. Bédié was compelled to control by way of an prolonged downturn within the mid-Nineteen Nineties adopted by an intensive corruption scandal. Public frustration stewed, and in December 1999 the navy toppled him in a coup.

Mr. Bédié fled by French navy helicopter to close by Togo, then to Paris. However he returned in 2002 and took up the mantle of opposition towards his military-appointed successor, Gen. Robert Guéï.

Thanks partially to Mr. Bédié’s divisive rhetoric, Ivory Coast suffered by way of an extended civil battle, throughout which Normal Guéï was killed and energy teetered between Mr. Ouattara and one other rival, Laurent Gbagbo.

The 2 males, plus Mr. Bédié, ran for the presidency in 2010, with Mr. Bédié coming in third. Within the runoff, Mr. Bédié supported Mr. Ouattara, his previous rival. Mr. Ouattara’s victory over Mr. Gbagbo set off a second civil battle.

It additionally established Mr. Bédié as a kingmaker in Ivorian politics, if not a viable political candidate. He ran once more for the presidency in 2020, successful lower than 2 % of the vote. Mr. Ouattara, who had gained re-election in 2015, was as soon as extra the victor, and stays the nation’s president.

At his demise, Mr. Bédié was mentioned to be contemplating one other run for the presidency, in 2025.

Aimé Henri Konan Bédié was born on Could 5, 1934, in Dadiékro, about 150 miles north of coastal Abidjan in what was then known as French West Africa. His dad and mom had been cocoa farmers.

His household was removed from rich, however he excelled at school and was one in all 100 college students granted a scholarship to review in France. He obtained his regulation diploma from Poitiers in 1958 and a doctorate in economics from the identical establishment in 1969.

After incomes his regulation diploma, Mr. Bédié returned to Ivory Coast to assist the nation put together for independence; he was assigned to the workplace designing the nationwide social safety system. He joined the French diplomatic service in 1959 and moved to Washington.

He married Henriette Koizan Bomo in 1957. That they had 4 kids. Additional info on survivors was not instantly accessible.

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