ABIDJAN, Aug 1 (Reuters) – 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 aged 89, a close relative told Reuters on Tuesday.
Bedie served as Ivory Coast’s second-ever 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 in 1999.
The cause of Bedie’s death was not immediately known. His spokesman could not be reached for comment.
The son of a low-income farmer, Bedie was born on May 5, 1934 at Dadiekro, 300 kilometres (190 miles) east of the commercial capital Abidjan.
He excelled at school and was among 100 promising students picked in the early 1950s to study in France, where he gained a doctorate in economics at Poitiers University.
In 1959, he joined the French diplomatic service and was posted as a counsellor to the French embassy in Washington. When Ivory Coast won independence in 1960, Bedie was appointed as its ambassador there.
Six years later, aged 32, he was put in charge of the economy during a period of rapid growth buoyed by expansion of the coffee and cocoa sectors, which remain the country’s main economic drivers.
Reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Grant McCool and Bill Berkrot