The vice president of The Gambia, Badara Alieu Joof, has died in India while seeking medical treatment.
Joof's death was confirmed in a statement on Wednesday morning by the office of the president in Banjul.
“It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing away of my Vice President, His Excellency, Badara Alieu Joof,” the statement shared via the official Facebook page of President Adama Barrow said.
Mr Joof is the first Gambian vice president to die in office. He reportedly suffered from a brief illness but there has been no word on the exact cause of his death.
However, rumours of his ill health began circulating in December 2022. He reportedly stopped appearing in public shortly after he returned from a visit to the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus in December.
Popular among Gambians
Joof, a career teacher, served as Minister for Higher Education in the Barrow administration from February 22, 2017 to May 4, 2022 when he was appointed vice president following the re-election of President Barrow in December 2021. Joof became the 4th person to hold the second highest political position in the West African country since the December 2017 disputed elections that ended the rule of former strongman Yahya Jammeh.
Joof was popular among many Gambians, largely due to his pro-poor views in government.
"The civil service is the engine of ideas, the engine of programmes, (and) the engine of projects. But also, the implementers of those projects, programmes and ideas. It cannot be business as usual in the civil service. We must deliver to the Gambian people," he was quoted as saying in a famous statement during a meeting with senior civil servants, including fellow cabinet members.