Guy Brice Parfait Kolelas, the main challenger in the Republic of Congo’s presidential election, has died of COVID-19.
A spokesman for Kolelas’s campaign says the 61-year-old candidate died Sunday as he was being evacuated from Brazzaville to France for treatment.
Kolelas was too ill to participate in a final campaign rally Friday, two days before the election. He recorded a video from his hospital bed Saturday holding an oxygen mask, declaring that he was “battling against death” but urging his supporters to “stand up and vote for change.”
Sunday’s election was the second time Kolelas had challenged incumbent President Denis Sassou Nguesso, having finished second in the 2016 election. The results are not expected for several days, but observers believe the 77-year-old Sassou Nguesso will emerge the winner and extend his decades-long grip on power.
Sassou Nguesso first took office in 1979 and served until 1992, and has served uninterrupted since winning the presidency again in 1997.