Ivory Coast's hospitalised president "doing well" - government

by Reuters
Friday, 21 February 2014 14:12 GMT

ABIDJAN, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara is recovering well after an operation in a French hospital this month and should return to his West African country soon, a government spokesman and his political party said.

Ouattara, who came to power following a brief post-election civil war in 2011, underwent a successful operation to alleviate pain caused by sciatica, the government said.

Sciatica is a relatively common form of lower back and leg pain caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve.

"He's doing well. I had him on the phone myself," government spokesman Bruno Kone told Reuters on Friday. "He's continuing to work. He's in constant contact with the prime minister."

Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa grower, is emerging from a decade of political turmoil that saw the country divided between a rebel north and government-controlled south and which fractured society along political and ethnic lines.

Ouattara, an economist and former International Monetary Fund official, has been praised by donors for the rapid renaissance of French-speaking West Africa's largest economy.

Analysts, however, warn that slow progress towards national reconciliation and a failure to reform the army and police still pose threats to Ivory Coast's political stability.

The absence from daily political life of the normally highly visible Ouattara has fuelled rumours in Ivory Coast that his health condition is more serious than officially stated, sparking concern over a potential succession battle.

"Ivory Coast's political microcosm and all its networks are buzzing with the most far-fetched and incongruous rumours," Ouattara's RDR political party said late on Thursday in a statement seeking to dispel the speculation.

"(Ouattara) will return soon to continue the mission with which the Ivorian people have entrusted him," it read.

First Lady Dominique Ouattara returned to the commercial capital Abidjan from Paris late on Thursday.

"My husband is doing very well. He sends you his regards," she told local journalists upon her arrival at the airport. (Reporting by Joe Bavier; Editing by Daniel Flynn)

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