Amadou Gon Coulibaly, Ivory Coast’s prime minister and the ruling party’s candidate for an October presidential election, died on Wednesday, President Alassane Ouattara said.

The 61-year-old Gon Coulibaly, who had heart surgery in 2012, became unwell during a weekly cabinet meeting and was evacuated to a hospital where he passed away, Ouattara said in a statement read on national television.

Gon Coulibaly had returned to Ivory Coast last Thursday after two months in France to undergo a heart exam and rest.

“Fellow compatriots, Ivory Coast is mourning. It is with deep pain that I announce to you that Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly has left us,” Ouattara said in a statement read by the presidency’s secretary general.

Gon Coulibaly’s death is likely to set off a scramble within the ruling RHDP party to replace him as its candidate in an election that is considered a key test of stability for the world’s top cocoa producer.

Ouattara’s first win in 2010 over incumbent Laurent Gbagbo sparked a brief civil war in which about 3 000 people died, and political tensions have been rising ahead of October’s poll.

Ouattara designated Gon Coulibaly as the RHDP candidate in March after announcing that he would not seek a third term.