BRAZZAVILLE, 22 March 2021 – The leading opposition candidate in Congo-Brazzaville’s presidential election, Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas, has died from complications of COVID-19.

He died while being evacuated to France for treatment.

Kolelas “died in the medical aircraft which came to get him from Brazzaville on Sunday afternoon”, his campaign manager Christian Cyr Rodrigue Mayanda, confirmed to AFP news agency.

Earlier on, in a video circulating on social media, the 61-year-old could be seen removing an oxygen mask to tell his supporters that he is “fighting death”.

Opposition Candidates Mathias Dzon (L) and Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas (R) Flank Incumbent Denis Sassou Nguesso - Photo Jeune Afrique

Opposition Candidates Mathias Dzon (L) and Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas (R) Flank Incumbent Denis Sassou Nguesso – Photo Jeune Afrique

“My dear compatriots, I am in trouble. I am fighting death. However, I ask you to stand up and vote for change. I would not have fought for nothing,” Kolelas said in the video.

He was one of six opposition candidates running against incumbent President Denis Sassou Nguesso, as 2.5 million Congolese went to the polls on Sunday.

Kolelas came second in the 2016 presidential election, obtaining only 15 percent of the vote compared to Mr Sassou Nguesso’s 60 percent.

Congolese at a Campaign Rally in Brazzaville - Photo The Mercury News

Congolese at a Campaign Rally in Brazzaville – Photo The Mercury News

The 77-year-old Sassou Nguesso is widely expected to win the election which was boycotted by the biggest opposition party, the Pan-African Union for Social Democracy.

Kolelas was diabetic and his family had earlier announced that they were making arrangements to get him evacuated to France.

On Friday, he said he was fighting malaria.

After admission into a private hospital in the capital, Brazzaville, he was tested positive for the new coronavirus.

Kolelas was the son of one-time Prime Minister, Bernard Kolelas (1997-2005).

As of Sunday, Congo-Brazzaville had recorded 9,000 cases of COVID-19, with 130 fatalities.

Incumbent Sassou Nguesso has been in power since 1979, except for a five-year period after losing the 1992 elections to Pascal Lissouba.

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