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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 usually violently aggressive political and ethnic factions, died on Tuesday in Abidjan, the nation’s largest metropolis. He was 89.

His loss of life, at a hospital, was introduced by his social gathering, the Democratic Get together 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 function in Ivorian politics over six a long time, for the reason that nation received independence from France in 1960.

Recent from legislation faculty 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 the USA 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 dwelling in 1965 to take over Ivory Coast’s financial and monetary affairs ministry and later function president of the Nationwide Meeting. Over the following 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 turned the area’s main agricultural exporter and an island of political stability. Per capita annual earnings 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 legislation stating that solely candidates with two Ivorian mother and father may run for president — a restriction stated to be geared toward Mr. Ouattara, whose mother and father had been rumored to have been born in neighboring Burkina Faso.

One other legislation, additionally stated 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 hung out 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 stated was supposed to foment division and to marginalize folks from the nation’s Muslim-majority north, who tended to maneuver throughout nationwide borders looking for work.

“To attain peacefully the formidable leap between an ethnic consciousness and a nationwide consciousness, the reference mark of identification have to be sturdy, and that fastened level is 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 underneath his personal legislation.

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

Mr. Bédié fled by French army 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 partly to Mr. Bédié’s divisive rhetoric, Ivory Coast suffered by a protracted civil warfare, 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 warfare.

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 received re-election in 2015, was as soon as extra the victor, and stays the nation’s president.

At his loss of life, Mr. Bédié was stated 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 mother and father had been cocoa farmers.

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

After incomes his legislation 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 obtainable.


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