Soumaila Cisse was runner-up in three presidential elections. He was defeated in 2013 and 2018 by Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. /AFP
Malian opposition leader Soumaila Cisse has died of COVID-19 aged 71, AFP reports quoting family and party sources.
Cisse "died in France, where he had been taken for COVID-19 care," a member of his family told AFP.
"I can confirm this terrible news. He's dead," a leader of Cisse's URD party told AFP, saying the politician's wife had let him know.
Cisse spent six months of 2020 in captivity, having been captured by jihadists in March while campaigning in the northeastern Timbuktu region ahead of legislative elections.
The politician was released by the jihadists in October alongside Frenchwoman Sophie Petronin and two Italians in exchange for some 200 prisoners.
Upon release, he said he had not been subjected to any harm by his captors.
Cisse was runner-up in three presidential elections. He was defeated in 2013 and 2018 by Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was ousted in an August 18 military coup.
According to AFP, Cisse studied in Senegal and France, where he worked for major companies including IBM before returning to Mali.
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