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Republic of Congo presidential candidate dies of Covid-19

 Republic of Congo is in central Africa
Louis Okamba, Associated Press

The Republic of Congo’s top presidential opposition candidate, Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas, who was admitted to hospital with Covid-19 complications on election day, has died, a spokesman said today.

The 61-year-old politician was last seen in a video circulating on social media on Saturday in which he told supporters he was “fighting death”.

Aides later said he had been flown to France for further treatment.

Spokesman Justin Nzoloufoua confirmed his death to the Associated Press today.

Mr Kolelas, who won 15% of the vote in the 2016 election, was expected to finish second to President Denis Sassou N’Guesso, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders with more than 36 years in office.

Mr Nzoloufoua said efforts are under way to repatriate Mr Kolelas’s body to Brazzaville.

Mr Kolelas had missed his final campaign event on Friday after telling some reporters a day earlier that he feared he had malaria.

The video circulating on social media on Saturday showed him wearing an oxygen mask and with a blood pressure cuff on his arm as he lay in a hospital bed.

“My dear compatriots, I am in trouble. I am fighting death,” he said in a weak-sounding voice after removing his oxygen mask. “However, I ask you to stand up and vote for change. I would not have fought for nothing.”

The opposition figure has been particularly critical of the incumbent leader in recent days, declaring that Republic of Congo has become “a police state”.

Mr Sassou N’Guesso is the third-longest serving president in Africa, ruling from 1979-1992 and then again since 1997 in this nation often overshadowed by its vast neighbour, Congo.

Republic of Congo has had fewer than 10,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic began, with 134 confirmed deaths.

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