Parfait Kolelas dies on polling day on a medical plane

Brazzaville, March 22 (08:33 PM PKT)(AFP/APP): Congo on Monday was counting votes from presidential elections overshadowed by the sudden death from coronavirus of opposition leader Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas, who had been campaigning against veteran leader Denis Sassou Nguesso. Kolelas, 61, died on polling day aboard a medical plane that took him to Paris, his campaign director Christian Cyr Rodrigue Mayanda told AFP.

A close friend of Kolelas told AFP that he had died five minutes after the plane touched down at Le Bourget airport north of Paris. A Paris court said a criminal probe had been opened into the cause of death. Sassou Nguesso, 77, who has accumulated 36 years in power, was frontrunner in an election boycotted by the main opposition and under an internet blackout.

Kolelas had initially feared he had malaria, and discovered too late that it was coronavirus, the source said. Kolelas tested positive for coronavirus on Friday afternoon, and was unable to host his closing campaign rally in Brazzaville. On Saturday, he posted a video from his sickbed, declaring he was “battling against death”.

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