The President of Ivory Coast, Ouattara, keeps his brother as Minister of Defense

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara speaks next to his wife Dominique during the general election in Abidjan

From Loucoumane Coulibaly

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara has confirmed his younger brother, Tene Birahima Ouattara, as Minister of Defense. This is part of a list of new appointments announced on Tuesday.

The new defense minister must grapple with Islamist violence from Burkina Faso in the north and pursue reforms that have pacified a series of army mutinies that threatened the stability of the world’s top cocoa-producing nation.

Three soldiers were killed when dozens of militants attacked two military posts last week.

Tene Birahima Ouattara was appointed interim defense minister in March following the death of Hamed Bakayoko, who held office alongside his role as prime minister.

Bakayoko was the second prime minister to die within eight months. Patrick Achi was named his predecessor after a general election last month.

Ouattara won a third term last October, but opponents claim he violated the constitution by running again. The vote sparked deadly ethnic clashes in which dozen died and feared a recurrence of a civil war that killed 3,000 people in 2010-11.

To ease political tension, Ouattara appointed Bertin Kouadio Konan, one of his opponents in the October elections, as Minister for Reconciliation and National Cohesion.

The new administration is expected to resume talks that could allow Belgium-based former President Laurent Gbagbo to return to Ivory Coast after he was acquitted of war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

Gbagbo was president from 2000 to 2011 when he was arrested for his alleged role in the election-related civil war after refusing to admit defeat to Ouattara.

His possible return to his home country is made more difficult by the fact that he was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for embezzlement there after an absent trial in January 2018.

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