The leader of the main opposition party in Mali, Soumalia Cisse, and a campaign entourage have reportedly been kidnapped since Wednesday, according to multiple reports.
According to Africa News, Cisse and his team were campaigning in a town near Timbuktu in the volatile northern region that has seen terrorist attacks from insurgents and Islamic fundamentalists.
Cisse’s party, Union for the Republic and Democracy (URD), issued a statement on Thursday saying they have not been able to reach any of the missing members of the party.
The URD also said it has set up a crisis team that would coordinate a search. The party has also appealed to the government and UN peacekeepers in the country to help in the search.
Cisse was the presidential candidate of the URD in 2013 and 2018 but lost to President Ibrahim Boubakar Keita on both occasions.
Mali is scheduled to have elections for the country’s legislative body on Sunday, March 29. This comes in spite of the country recording two cases of the highly contagious coronavirus.
Africa has over 2,500 known cases across 43 countries and 64 deaths recorded so far. South Africa has recorded more than 600 cases, followed by Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Burkina Faso and Senegal, according to the World Health Organization’s latest figures.
Meanwhile, the WHO has warned African countries to prepare for the worst in the wake of the growing confirmation of cases of the coronavirus on the continent.
South Africa, the worst-hit African country, now has more than 1000 cases.