The Mali opposition leader dies of Covid-19 months after the release of jihadists

Malaya opposition leader Soumaila Cissé has died of coronavirus at the age of 71, his family and party said on Friday, just two months after he was released by jihadist militants in a prisoner exchange.

A family member told AFP that Cissé “died in France, where he had been taken into care by Covid-19”.

“I can confirm this terrible news. He is dead,” a Cissé URD leader told AFP, saying the politician’s wife had informed him.

Cissé was snatched by jihadists on March 25 while fighting in the northeastern Timbuktu region ahead of long-delayed team elections.

He was released six months later in October along with French Sophie Pétronin and two Italians.

The hostages were exchanged for 200 prisoners whose jihadist groups demanded their release.

“I was not subjected to any violence, either physical or verbal,” Cissé said after his release.

Cissé was a former leader of the opposition in parliament and was second in three presidential elections.

In 2013 and 2018, he was defeated by Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was thrown out in a military coup on 18 August.

After the 2018 vote, Cissé accused officials of having chosen the election and claimed that he had won a run-off with 51.75 percent of the votes for Keita’s 48.25 percent.

Cissé was an engineer and IT specialist trained and studied in Senegal and France, where he worked for large companies including IBM before returning to Mali.

( Jowharwith AFP)