Jacques Joaquim Yhombi-Opango, former president of the Republic of the Congo, has died after contracting coronavirus, his family said. Yhombi-Opango died in a Paris hospital on Monday. He was 81.
According to his son, Yhombi-Opango was ill before he contracted the virus. He led Congo-Brazzaville from 1977 until he was toppled in 1979, being ousted by the country’s current leader, Denis Sassou Nguesso.
Born in 1939 in the country’s northern Cuvette region, Yhombi-Opango was an army officer who rose to power after the assassination of president Marien Ngouabi. The troubled oil-rich former French colony was aligned with the Soviet Union during Ngouabi’s 1968-1977 rule.
Accused of taking part in a coup plot against Sassou Nguesso, Yhombi-Opango was jailed from 1987 to 1990. He was released a few months before a 1991 national conference that introduced multi-party politics in the central African country.
He founded the Rally for Democracy and Development party but lost in a 1992 presidential election. Yhombi-Opango later allied with elected president Pascal Lissouba, becoming his prime minister between 1994 and 1996.
When civil war broke out in Congo in 1997, Yhombi-Opango fled into exile in France. He was finally able to return home in 2007 but then divided his time between France and Congo because of his health problems.
Coronavirus Situation in Africa
As of now Congo currently has 19 cases of the coronavirus while neighbouring DRC has 98 cases and 8 deaths. The novel coronavirus virus has spread to 47 out of the 54 countries in the African continent with several countries haven initiated serious lockdown measures.
South Africa currently has the highest number of coronavirus cases (1,326) while Egypt has the highest fatalities (40). So far, the African continent has a total of 8,587 cases and 235 fatalities of coronavirus.