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Mali opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé dies from coronavirus

FILE- 2018, file photo released by the Union for the Republic and Democracy party, showing Soumaila Cisse, opposition presidential candidate casting his vote.   -  
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Boubacar Sada Sissoko/Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Mali

Mali opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé, who had been held hostage for six months by jihadists, died on Friday in France after contracting coronavirus, his family and a member of his party told the AFP news agency.

He died at the age of 71.

"Soumaïla Cissé, leader of the Malian opposition, died today in France where he had been transferred for Covid-19 treatment", a member of his family told AFP, information confirmed by an official of the left.

Cissé was kidnapped on March 25 by unidentified gunmen while he was campaigning for the legislative elections in the region of Timbuktu (North-West).

He was released in October, after six months of captivity in the hands of jihadists.

He was freed at the same time as the French citizen Sophie Pétronin and two Italians, in exchange for 200 detainees released at the request of the jihadist groups.

"I have not suffered any violence, neither physical nor verbal," he said after his release.

He was freed at the same time as the French citizen Sophie Pétronin and two Italians, in exchange for 200 detainees released at the request of the jihadist groups.

He said he did not suffer any violence, neither physical nor verbal.

The former leader of the parliamentary opposition came in second on three occasions in the presidential election

In the 2013 and 2018 votes, he lost to Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, who was overthrown in an August 18 coup.

Cissé was a computer engineer by trade and studied in Senegal and France.

He worked for large companies in France such as IBM, before returning to Mali.

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