Congo’s former president Yhombi-Opango dies of coronavirus in France

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Former Republic of Congo president, Jacques Joaquim Yhombi Opango has died after contracting coronavirus in France. His family confirmed to AFP that he died in a Paris hospital on Monday. He was 81.

His son told the news agency that Yhombi-Opango was ill before he contracted the virus.

The ex-president 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.

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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.

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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, he 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 issues.

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