Congo-Brazzaville presidential candidate Guy Brice Parfait Kolélas dies of COVID-19 on election day

The Republic of Congo’s main opposition candidate, Guy Brice Parfait Kolélas, died on Sunday from complications relating to the coronavirus.

Kolélas, who reportedly died en route to France where he was seeking treatment, was the primary challenger of incumbent President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

As votes from Sunday’s presidential election are being counted, Nguesso is expected to win re-election by a large margin- extending his 36 years in the office.

In a video posted Saturday, the dying Kolélas urged his supporters to maintain hope, saying, “Rise up as one person … I’m fighting on my deathbed, you too fight for your change,” he urged his supporters, saying the election was “about the future of your children.”

Under President Nguesso’s leadership, Congo’s constitution was amended in 2015 to abolish the country’s two-term limit and 70 year age limit for the presidency. These changes allowed him to continue to stay in office and seek additional terms.

Guy Brice Parfait Kolélas, who strongly disagreed with Nguesso’s changes to the constitution, ran in his opposition in the last two elections, founding his own party, the Union of Humanist Democrats, in 2017.

Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.

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