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Veteran Congo politician Pierre Lumbi dies from coronavirus

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Veteran Congolese politician Pierre Lumbi, once an advisor to former President Joseph Kabila and latterly a leading opposition figure, died on Sunday, friends and allies said, becoming the country’s most high profile victim of the new coronavirus.

A prominent member of civil society in the 1990s, Lumbi held several ministerial portfolios before advising Kabila on security.

In 2016 he was elected as a senator for South Kivu province and worked as campaign manager for Martin Fayulu in his bid to win the 2018 election.

“Very saddened by the death of Senator P. Lumbi,” Fayulu said on Twitter.

His family said he died from the coronavirus at the Centre Medical Kinshasa hospital in Congo’s capital, according to local media. The Democratic Republic of Congo has recorded 4,478 coronavirus cases with 107 deaths.

“Very sad to learn about the death due to #Covid19 of Pierre Lumbi,” Ida Sawyer, Deputy Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, said on Twitter. “I have fond memories of many engaging conversations with him over the years. Condolences to his family and friends.”

Reporting by Stanis Bujakera; Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Daniel Wallis