A former president of the Republic of Congo has died after contracting coronavirus. Jacques Joaquim Yhombi-Opango is reported to have died at the age of 81 in a Paris hospital.
His family confirmed that he had underlying health conditions before contracting the virus. He served as president and Prime Minister in the Central African country. Yhombi-Opango was president of Congo-Brazzaville from April 1977 until he was toppled in February 1979 by the country president 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 spent years in prison and 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.
He served as Prime Minister under the elected government of Pascal Lissouba between 1992 and 1997, until a civil war broke out in 1997.
He fled into exile in France, before being allowed to return home 10 years later in 2007. He then divided his time between France and Congo because of his health problems.
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