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Congo presidential candidate dies of Covid-19 in aircraft

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The main contender to President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso in Sunday’s held presidential election, Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas has died of Covid-19.

Kolelas died on Sunday while voting was underway after becoming seriously ill with Covid-19.

His campaign officials said he tested positive for coronavirus on Friday while ending his campaign activities.

The 61-year-old was diabetic, according to his campaign team.

A day before the election Kolelas posted a video from his sickbed saying he was “battling against death”.

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He asked voters to “Rise up as one person… I’m fighting on my deathbed, you too fight for your change,” adding that the election was “about the future of your children”.

One of his staff told the AFP news agency that Mr Kolelas “died in the medical aircraft which came to get him from Brazzaville on Sunday afternoon”.

Kolelas was the son of a former prime minister and previously held the position of minister of fishing and civil servants.

He came in second to Sassou Nguesso in the 2016 elections and was the only serious contender facing the president after a string of boycotts, withdrawn candidacies and exclusions.

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Meanwhile Sunday’s election took place peacefully but with low participation, according to observers.

President Nguesso is seeking to extend his 36-year rule in Sunday’s election.

Denis Sassou Nguesso is one of the longest serving presidents in Africa and has been president for the second streak since 1997.

He previously served as president from 1979 to 1992. He was defeated in a presidential election in 1992.

Nguesso who is 77 years was an opposition leader for five years and then came back to power during the Second Civil War (1997–1999) when his rebel forces ousted President Pascal Lissouba.

He has since been in power, winning all presidential elections held since 2002.

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