Congolese opposition leader Guy-Brice Kolelae has died of coronavirus infection while being flown to France for treatment, his campaign director said on Monday. The news came a day after the election in which his presidency was his biggest challenge.
“He died on a medical flight from Brazzaville on Sunday afternoon,” his party chief told AFP. The 61-year-old was found on COVID-19 on Friday afternoon and could not host his final campaign rally in Brazzaville and was a heavyweight at the country’s campaign grounds.
He was a popular leader in Congo and was a major obstacle for opposition candidates in the election. Kolelae has been a historic opposition figure, and this year he has emerged as the only real contender for outgoing President Sasssou Nguesso, 77. After 36 years in power, the latter has made no secret of his desire to run again in elected in the first round of Sunday’s election.
Kolelas stopped his last election campaign on Friday after telling some reporters the day before that he feared he had malaria. A video circulating on social media on Saturday showed Kolelas wearing an oxygen mask and high blood pressure arm in his arm as he lay in hospital.
He told reporters: “My dear brothers, I am in trouble. I am fighting death, ”the candidate said in a weak voice after distancing himself from his oxygen mask. “However, I urge you to stand up and vote for change. We would not fight for nothing. ”