Main Congolese opposition candidate Kolelas dies a day after presidential poll

Main Congolese opposition candidate Kolelas dies a day after presidential poll

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                Le principal candidat de l'opposition de la République du Congo, Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas, est décédé alors qu'il était transféré en France pour être soigné pour Covid-19, a déclaré lundi à l'AFP son directeur de campagne, un jour après la tenue des élections présidentielles.

                                    <p>Kolelas "est mort dans l'avion sanitaire qui est venu le chercher de Brazzaville dimanche après-midi", a déclaré Christian Cyr Rodrigue Mayanda. 

Kolelas was being evacuated to France for treatment there when he died. On Friday, he tested positive for Covid-19 and fell seriously ill. He spent election day in the hospital.

In a video that circulated on social media, Kolelas, 61, with diabetes, could be seen briefly removing an oxygen mask to tell his supporters he was “fighting death.”

“Stand up as one person… I fight on my deathbed. You too, fight for your change ”, he urged his supporters, saying that the election was about“ the future of your children ”.

Kolelas was one of six candidates vying against Denis Sassou Nguesso, 77, and was considered the main opposition candidate. He was the finalist in the 2016 presidential election and has been widely seen as the main political threat to Sassou Nguesso, who has ruled the central African country for a total of 36 years since 1979.

Provisional election results aren’t expected for days, but Sassou Nguesso was largely expected to win re-election.

Concerns about internet failure

Critics, including the influential Catholic Church in Congo, had expressed “serious reservations” about the transparency of the vote amid an internet shutdown on election day.

Some 50 organizations, including Internet Without Borders, last week called on the president to “keep the Internet open, accessible and secure throughout the period of the 2021 presidential election.”

The largest opposition group, the Pan African Union for Social Democracy or UPADS, boycotted the poll in which some 2.5 million people are eligible to vote.

The former French colony has abundant oil reserves and most of its budget comes from oil revenues. But its economy is in crisis, affected by collapsing global crude prices, long-standing debt and the pandemic, as well as its reputation for corruption.

Sassou Nguesso campaigned for agricultural development and presented himself as an advocate for Congolese youth – the average age of the population of 5 million is only 19, according to UN figures .

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)



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