Opposition candidate in Congo-Brazzaville dies on election day

He suffered from respiratory problems during a flight to France for COVID-19 treatment and died shortly after landing in the country

Shortly after presidential elections in the Central African country of Congo-Brazzaville, the main opposition candidate Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas has died of COVID-19, his campaign team has said.

Kolelas was taken via plane to France for treatment but suffered from respiratory problems during the flight and died shortly after landing, his campaign manager Christian Cyr Mayanda said.

Hours earlier the 61-year-old had appeared in a video shared on social media, where he removed his oxygen mask and told his supporters that he was “fighting death”.

He urged them to vote in Sunday’s poll.

The electoral law does not annul the election if one of the candidates dies.

French prosecutors announced a criminal investigation into the cause of Mr Kolélas’s death. His body has not yet been repatriated.

Kolelas was the main challenger of President Denis Sassou-Nguesso in last Sunday’s election, though he was said to have little chance of winning. In 2016 elections he came second.

Sassou-Nguesso is one of the oldest presidents in Africa, with over 35 years in office overall.

The 70-year-old came to power in 1979 following a military coup. He lost office in 1992 multi-party elections, but came back to power five years later after a civil conflict.

Congo-Brazzaville is one of the largest oil producers on the African continent. Due to low oil prices and declining production, the country has recently suffered economically.

It is also plagued by corruption, ranking among the 15 last countries on Transparency International’s corruption index.

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