Former president is dead

Former Ivory Coast President Henri Konan Bedie, part of an old guard of politicians who dominated politics in the West African nation for a generation, has died at the age of 89, according to a close relative and a member of his party.

Handpicked by his predecessor, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, Bedie served as Ivory Coast’s second president after independence from France in 1960. He ruled from 1993 until an economic slump and allegations of corruption led to his ouster in a military coup six years later.

Bedie died on Tuesday at the Polyclinique Internationale Sainte Anne-Marie, a hospital in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s commercial capital and largest city, a party source told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

The death of the leader of the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast-African Democratic Rally (PDCI-RDA) was also confirmed to the Reuters news agency by a relative, but the cause was not immediately known.

According to local reports, the former president was airlifted from his hometown of Daoukro, 230km (145 miles) north of Abidjan, after falling ill on Tuesday.

He was long remembered – and in some parts reviled – for his role in promoting the issue of “Ivoirite”, or Ivorian identity, which fuelled tensions between those who considered themselves natives in the south and east and the many foreign workers from neighbouring countries long settled in the northern Ivory Coast.