Ivory Coast PM flies to France for medical checks

FILE PHOTO: Ivory Coast Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly wearing a protective face mask speaks during his visit at the first reception center built to hold coronavirus disease screening tests, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Abidjan, Ivory Coast April 15, 2020. REUTERS/Luc Gnago/File Photo

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ivory Coast Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, the ruling party’s candidate in October’s presidential election, has flown to France for medical checks, the presidency said on Sunday.

The brief statement said Gon Coulibaly left on Saturday but gave no details about his state of health.

A source close to Gon Coulibaly, who had heart surgery in 2012, said the prime minister had missed a scheduled check-up in France in April because he was busy coordinating Ivory Coast’s coronavirus response.

“His intense activity these last weeks had an impact on his health, but it is nothing very serious. He is doing well,” the source said, adding that Gon Coulibaly would return to Ivory Coast in a few days.

Defence Minister Hamed Bakayoko, who recovered from the coronavirus last month, will serve as interim prime minister in Gon Coulibaly’s absence, the presidency’s statement said.

Gon Coulibaly self-isolated in late March because of possible exposure to the coronavirus but did not test positive.

President Alassane Ouattara designated Gon Coulibaly in March as the ruling RHDP party’s candidate for the presidential election after saying he would not himself seek a third term.

Ivory Coast has recorded more than 1,300 cases of the coronavirus, one of the highest totals in West Africa, with 15 deaths.

Reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Frances Kerry and Edmund Blair