The Republic of Congo's main opposition candidate Guy-Brice Parfait Kolelas died of Covid-19 as he was being transferred to France for treatment, his campaign director said on Monday, a day after the country's presidential election.
The 60-year-old "died in the medical aircraft which came to get him from Brazzaville on Sunday afternoon", said Christian Cyr Rodrigue Mayanda.
The main rival of President Denis Sassou Nguesso tested positive for coronavirus on Friday and spent election day in hospital.
In his last words to voters he said in a video: "My dear compatriots, I am in trouble, I am fighting death, but nevertheless I ask you to stand up.
"Go and vote for change. I will not have fought for nothing. Fight for it. I will not have fought for nothing. "
Mayanda told AFP that Kolelas was in the lead in many localities, adding that ''we will continue to count the ballot''.
Kolelas was unable to hold his last campaign meeting in Brazzaville, the Congolese political capital.
A historic opponent, Kolelas, emerged this year as the only real rival of President Sasssou Nguesso, 77. He was the runner-up in 2016's presidential election.
After 36 years in power, the president did not hide his desire to be re-elected in the first round of polls Sunday.
Election results are expected in several days time.