Malian opposition leader, Soumaila Cissé, has died in France where he had been taken for Covid-19 care, his family and party said Friday. He was 71.
This comes just two months after Cissé was released by jihadist militants in a prisoner swap. He had been snatched by jihadists on March 25 while campaigning in the northeastern Timbuktu region ahead of long-delayed legislative elections.
A leader of Cissé’s URD party confirmed the development to AFP adding that the politician’s wife had let him know. Said the leader:
I can confirm this terrible news. He’s dead.
Cissé was freed two months ago after spending six months in the hands of jihadists. He was released alongside Frenchwoman Sophie Pétronin and two Italians.
The hostages were exchanged for some 200 prisoners whose release was demanded by jihadist groups. Speaking after the release, Cissé said:
I was not subjected to any violence, either physical or verbal.
Cissé was in 2013 and 2018 defeated by Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was ousted in an August 18 military coup, was runner-up in three presidential elections.
Soumaila Cissé refused to accept the outcome of the 2018 vote accusing officials of rigging the election, claiming he had won a runoff with 51.75 percent of the vote to Keita’s 48.25 percent.
He had attained his engineering and IT specialist training in Senegal and France where he worked for major companies including IBM before returning to Mali.