Presidential Challenger Dies of Covid-19 Just Hours After Voting Ends

DAKAR, Senegal — The opposition chief was too sick to make it to his closing appointments earlier than Sunday’s election.

“I am fighting death,” he mentioned in a weak voice on Friday, eradicating an oxygen masks from his face to movie a message addressed to the residents of the Republic of Congo. “But I ask you to stand up and vote for change.”

Three days later, hours after the election, he was lifeless. He had examined optimistic for Covid-19.

The candidate, Guy-Brice Parfait Kolélas, was making an attempt to unseat President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who has been in energy for 36 years. But on Friday, Mr. Kolélas fell in poor health.

As voters went to the polls on Sunday, Mr. Kolélas was evacuated by air to France for therapy. But he died on the airplane on his manner there, his marketing campaign director mentioned Monday morning at a gathering of Mr. Kolélas’s political get together in Brazzaville, the Congolese capital.

Credit…Reuters TV

Few observers anticipated Mr. Kolélas to win the election. But his loss of life is however a blow for a Central African nation mired in an financial disaster. The nation has reported 9,564 coronavirus circumstances up to now, and has been averaging about 34 new circumstances a day currently, in response to a New York Times database. As in lots of international locations, that is possible an underestimate as a result of testing ranges are low.

A quantity of outstanding African politicians have died up to now yr. Some, just like the Nigerian president’s right-hand man Abba Kyari and the South African cupboard minister Jackson Mphikwa Mthembu, are identified to have died of Covid-19 issues. Official bulletins for some others, like President John Magufuli of Tanzania and President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, have mentioned they died of coronary heart issues, although rumors have swirled that the coronavirus performed a task of their deaths.

In the video recorded from his hospital mattress, Mr. Kolélas advised Congolese voters that they owed it to their youngsters to forged a poll within the election.

“Fight. I will not have fought in vain,” he mentioned within the video. “Rise up as one people. Make me happy. I’m fighting on my deathbed. You, too, fight for your change.”

The son of a former prime minister who additionally spent a few years in opposition, Mr. Kolélas served as a minister beneath Mr. Nguesso for six years. But within the run-up to this yr’s election, he said that the Republic of Congo had turn into a “police state.”

The web was blocked throughout the nation on Election Day, in response to the monitoring group Netblocks. Otherwise, the election appeared to go forward with out incident. Election outcomes are anticipated later this week.

“Democracy is working in our country,” Mr. Nguesso mentioned Monday.

A former army officer, Mr. Nguesso first got here to energy in 1977, after his predecessor was assassinated. He misplaced the nation’s first multiparty election in 1992, however returned to energy in 1997. In 2019 the nonprofit campaigning group Global Witness accused his son of stealing $50 million in state funds.

Almost half the inhabitants lives in poverty within the Republic of Congo, which is one of the primary oil producers on the African continent.

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