Republic of Congo’s main opposition leader Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas has died from COVID-19 complications a day after Sunday’s vote, which his rival, President Denis Sassou Nguesso is expected to win.
On the eve of the latest election, Kolelas, 61, who came second in the 2016 election, had from his hospital bed appealed to his supporters to vote for change.
He previously served as Congo’s interim president in 2010 after the death of his father Bernard Kolelas, and also in various ministerial portfolios.
Kolelas reportedly died while being evacuated to Paris for treatment.
His death is unlikely to affect the outcome of Sunday’s vote, held under internet blackout and low turnout, although balloting was reportedly peaceful.
Some of the five other candidates had called for a boycott accusing Nguesso, 77, who is seeking a fourth term after 36 years in power, of authoritarianism, cronyism and corruption.
In spite of its oil diamond resources, the majority of the former French Central African colony’s 5.5 million live in abject poverty and under political uncertainty compounded by crippling foreign debt.