Ivory Coast president names a largely unchanged but slimmer government

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ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara appointed a slimmed-down government of 32 ministers on Wednesday, down from 41, keeping the same men at the head of the defence, finance and foreign affairs ministries but naming a new mines minister, according to a statement.

Ouattara promised to reduce the size of the West African country's Cabinet after Prime Minister Patrick Achi tabled his resignation and that of his government on April 13.

Achi was reappointed days later. His return was announced as Ouattara named West African central bank Governor Tiemoko Meyliet Kone as his vice president.

Most of Ouattara's key ministers have kept their positions in the re-shuffled Cabinet, the presidency statement showed, including his brother Tene Birahima Ouattara as head of defence.

The minister of mines and energy was replaced with former agriculture minister Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly. Other changes include the ministers of culture and private sector investment.

The nine ministries that no longer feature on the new government list have been integrated into other offices.

Ouattara is expected to step down at the end of his third term in 2025, when presidential elections will be held.

Kone's appointment as vice president, a position that has been vacant since 2020, suggests Ouattara could have him in mind as a potential successor.

The 80-year-old Ouattara came to power in 2011. Critics say he violated the constitution when he ran for a third term in 2020.

Ivory Coast is the world's top cocoa producer and one of West Africa's largest economies. Ethnic and regional rivalries have lingered in the mainly peaceful country since a brief civil war in 2011.

(Reporting by Ange Aboa and Loucoumane Coulibaly; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Bate Felix and Leslie Adler)

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