Bédié served as Ivory Coast's second ever president after independence from France in 1960. He ruled from 1993 until an economic slump and allegations of corruption led to his ouster in a military coup in 1999.
He was long remembered – and in some parts reviled – for his role in promoting the issue of "ivoirité", or Ivorian identity, which fueled tensions between those who considered themselves natives in the south and east, and the many foreign workers from neighbouring countries long settled in the country's north.
Bédié remained in politics until the end. At 86, he ran a losing race against longtime political rival President Alassane Ouattara in elections in 2020.
The cause of Bédié's death was not immediately known. His spokesman could not be reached for comment.
The son of a low-income farmer, Bédié was born on May 5, 1934 at Dadiekro, 300 kilometres east of the commercial capital Abidjan.
He excelled at school and was among 100 promising students picked in the early 1950s to study in France, where he gained a doctorate in economics at Poitiers University.
In 1959, he joined the French diplomatic service and was posted as a counsellor to the French embassy in Washington. When Ivory Coast won independence in 1960, Bedie was appointed as its ambassador there.
Six years later, aged 32, he was put in charge of the economy during a period of rapid growth buoyed by expansion of the coffee and cocoa sectors, which remain the country's main economic drivers.