The third person to die of Covid-19 complications in the Democratic Republic of Congo is a respected human rights lawyer and an aide of President Félix Tshisekedi.
Jean-Joseph Mukendi wa Mulumba was the acting head of President Tshisekedi’s legal advisory council.
He is likely to have contracted the respiratory illness during his trip to France for a medical check-up.
Mr Mulumba has been a key figure in DR Congo opposition politics and in human rights circles.
He was a close aide of the late veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, the father of the current president.
As a lawyer, he represented opposition politician Moïse Katumbi and others who opposed former President Joseph Kabila’s attempt to extend his term in office.
Mr Tshisekedi took over from Mr Kabila in January last year, the first peaceful transfer of power in the country in nearly 60 years.
Many in DR Congo have described Mr Mukendi wa Mulumba’s death as a huge loss.
Rights activist Anneke Van Woudenberg wrote on Twitter: “He was one of the greats. His country, and the human rights movement, will miss him.”
#DRC: So sad to hear of the death of Congolese human rights lawyer, Maitre Joseph Mukendi wa Mulumba from #coronavirus. He was one of the greats. His country, and the #humanrights movement, will miss him. Rest in peace my friend. pic.twitter.com/FT2HzfOE6D— Anneke VanWoudenberg (@woudena) March 24, 2020
DR Congo has confirmed 48 cases of Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by coronavirus.
On Tuesday, President Tshisekedi announced the closure of the country’s borders and isolated the capital, Kinshasa, where most of the cases have been reported, from the rest of the country.