President Akufo-Addo has eulogised the late former president of Côte d’Ivoire Henri Konan Bédié, describing him as a faithful servant of the Ivorian people who contributed greatly to the economic transformation of his country.
The former Ivorian leader died on Tuesday 1 August 2023 at the age of 89.
President Konan Bédié was a member of an old guard of Ivorian politicians who dominated politics in the West African nation for a generation.
Henri Konan Bédié served as Côte d’Ivoire’s second ever president after independence from France in 1960.
He ruled the country from 1993 until an economic slump and allegations of corruption led to his overthrow in a military coup in 1999.
In a short address to the presidential press corps after signing the book of condolence opened at the Ivorian embassy in Accra today, Wednesday (8 August 2023), President Akufo-Addo said he was deeply saddened when he heard the news of the death of Konan Bédié, a man with whom he was friendly.
“President Konan Bédié was part of a great group of ministers when he was minister for finance who assisted the Great Leader, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, to create the Côte d’Ivoire that all of us know, which in the 1960s and 70s experienced great economic development and, indeed, was the outstanding economy of West Africa at the time.
“President Konan Bédié, as the minister for finance, played a very important role in that development. He has been a faithful servant of the Ivorian people and the republic.
“He was also a very great friend of our country [Ghana]. He treasured very much his ancestral links to Ghana and never failed to remind me that he was also a Ghanaian,” President Akufo-Addo said.
“He was a man with whom I had very good relations and I have to tell you how sorry I was when I heard the news of his departure. That is what has brought me here today, to come and register, in the name of the Ghanaian people and government, our sincere condolences over the loss of this illustrious public servant of Côte d’Ivoire,” President Akufo-Addo added.
Brief history of President Konan Bédié
Henri Konan Bédié, the son of a low-income farmer, was born on 5 May 1934 at Dadiekro, 300 kilometres (190 miles) east of Abidjan, today Côte d’Ivoire’s commercial capital.
He excelled at school and was among 100 promising students selected in the early 1950s to study in France, where he gained a doctorate in economics from Poitiers University.
Bédié remained in politics until the end. At 86, he ran a losing race against his long-term political rival President Alassane Ouattara in elections in 2020.
The cause of Bédié’s death was not immediately known.
He will long be remembered – and in some parts reviled – for his role in promoting the concept of “Ivoirité”, or Ivorian identity, which fuelled tensions between those in the south and east who considered themselves natives, and the many foreign workers from neighbouring countries long settled in the country’s north.