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The new Ivorian PM, “a joker of Ouattara”

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The new Ivorian Prime Minister, Hamed Bakayoko, Minister of Defense, a pillar of the ruling party, is “a joker of Alassane Ouattara”, say political commentators in Côte d’Ivoire.

The Head of State, Alassane Ouattara has made his final decision, appointing Hamed Bakayoko as Prime Minister. This was already on everyone’s lips, but it was still necessary to convince the last skeptics within the bodies of the Rassemblement des houphouëtistes pour la democratie et la paix (RDHP), confide sources close to the Ivorian presidency.

Presented as a go-getter, Hamed Bakayoko, is close to the president and a historical activist of the presidential party. The new Prime Minister is an old martial arts practitioner who claims to put determination and daring at the heart of his actions.

Entering politics years ago, when he was only a student activist in the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI, ex-single party, currently in the opposition), ended up leading the student branch with self-sacrifice.

However, he soon joined the Rassemblement des Républicains (RDR, Ouattara’s party) before the end of the 1990s. He worked in the field of communication which led him to become a journalist and found the newspaper Le Patriote, which has since become a press organ close to the RDR.

The rest of his journalistic career is spent at Radio Nostalgie where he successively heads the Ivory Coast and the Africa branch. A prestigious position which, combined with his very good interpersonal skills, will help him forge a very important network within the media and political elites of West Africa.

Hamed Bakayoko, Ouattara’s joker

Hamed Bakayoko was approached very early on for his political qualities. He made the first steps of his government career as Minister of New Technologies, Information and Communication of the Soro 1 government, within the framework of the national union, between 2007 and 2010.

However, his profile is not yet particularly technical: a state of affairs that changed when he was appointed Minister of the Interior in 2011, when Alassane Ouattara took office following the 2010 presidential election.

This strategic function is an early testimony to the confidence placed in it by President Alassane Ouattara. He takes the reins of this ministry in a country plagued by insecurity at the end of the post-election crisis of 2010-2011.

A task from which he emerges politically strengthened as his record is then recognised as positive. Crowned with his new build as a reliable statesman, he is called on to a particularly hot new issue: the reform of the national armed forces of Côte d’Ivoire (FANCI).

The Ivorian army has been encountering deep difficulties since 2011 and has still not succeeded in becoming operational. President Ouattara therefore hopes that the grip and energy of Hamed Bakayoko, as Minister of State, Minister of Defence, will be able to force the turbulent soldiers to withdraw.

Three years later the direction taken seems to be the right one and the Ivorian armies have managed to initiate organic reforms and even to win victories: such as Operation “Comoé” in May 2020, carried out alongside the Burkinabè forces to neutralise the terrorists.

The rise to the top

Tireless, Hamed Bakayoko managed in 2018 to be elected mayor of Abobo (more than 1 million inhabitants), a municipality located in the north of Abidjan, thus managing to prevent this large municipality of Abidjan from falling into the camp of the opposition.

This victory confirms the status of “emergency remedy” of the minister, just as it gives proof of the talents of politician, speaker and leader of the crowd of the boss of the Ivorian defense. His victory in Abobo and his record in the Ministry of Defense are certainly the reasons for the confidence that President Ouattara places in his new Prime Minister.

This confidence is all the more important as Hamed Bakayoko keeps his portfolio as Minister of Defence, in addition to leading the government. The latter seems to have no presidential ambition, declaring that he only aspires to serve his president, to whom he is indeed close.

However, if despite everything Alassanne Ouattara were not to run for a third presidential term, there is little doubt that Hamed Bakayoko would be among the candidates most seriously considered by the RDHP.


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