Congo ex-President Yombi Opango dies of coronavirus

Jacques Joaquim Yhombi Opango/ COURTESY

Former Congo president Jacques Joaquim Yhombi Opango died aged 81 in France on Monday of the coronavirus his family told AFP.

His son, Jean-Jacques, said Opango died at a Paris hospital. He was unwell even before he contracted the disease.

Born in 1939 in Congo’s northern Cuvette region, Opango was an army officer who rose to power after the assassination of President Marien Ngouabi.

Opango was ousted by long-time ruler Denis Sassou Nguesso.

Probably the second most powerful man in the Congo, he comes from the same area of the north as President Ngouabi and appears to exercise some influence on him. Not that their relations have been entirely happy; plotters have tended to believe that he would support them in overthrowing the regime. In March 1970 the plotters claimed that Yhombi was their leader, but he denied this and the vigour with which he suppressed the putsch demonstrated his loyalty to Ngouabi.

At the time when he was President, there have been changes in foreign policy. To normalize relations with France, an extremely tense when Ngouabi were restored diplomatic relations with the United States.

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