Soumaila Cisse, Mali Politician Who Was Held Hostage, Dies at 71

Soumaila Cisse, one of Mali’s most prominent opposition politicians who was abducted by Islamist insurgents while campaigning for elections this year, has died. He was 71.

Cisse was undergoing medical treatment in Paris after contracting Covid-19 in Mali earlier this month, a spokesman of his Union for the Republic and Democracy party said by text message.

Cisse was a candidate in presidential elections in 2002, 2013 and 2018. He was defeated in the second round of voting each time. In March, Cisse was abducted by militants as he traveled to his home region of Timbuktu to campaign for a seat in parliament. He won the seat while in captivity and was released six months later following talks between the al-Qaeda-linked insurgents and the Malian government.

Before entering politics, Cisse worked as a software engineer for companies including IBM France and Pechiney SA. He served as finance minister from 1993 to 2000, and as minister of equipment and territorial planning from 2000 to 2002.

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