Joachim Yhombi-Opango was a Congo-Brazaville politician and he was an army officer who became the country’s first general and served as the head of state from 1977 to 1979. He was the president of the Rally for Democracy and Development (RDD) a political party. He also served as the prime minister from 1993 to 1996. Post-election violence led to his exile from 1997 to 2007.
Jacques Joachim Yhombi-Opango was born in Fort Rousset presently Owando in the Cuvette region in the north of the Congo. He was born on 12th January 1939. By the time of his death, he was 81 of age.
Joachim Yhombi-Opango was the Army Chief of Staff (with the rank of Major) under the presidency of Marien Ngouabi. On July 30, 1970, he was suspended from the position but he was subsequently restored to it. He became a member of the ruling Congolese Labour party (PCT) and became involved in the party’s right-wing. However, on February 22, 1972, leftist elements in the party claimed that Joachim Yhombi-Opango was trying to organize a coup and had ordered the arrest of members of the PCT political bureau. The claim was started by Lieutenant Ange Diawara who was trying to begin an unsuccessful leftist coup. Joachim Yhombi-Opango became a member of the central committee of PCT in 1972 and was later promoted to the rank of a colonel and became a member of the PCT’s political bureau in January 1973. He served as secretary-General of the council of State until being moved to the post of Council of State delegate in charge of Defence on November 9, 1974. Joachim Yhombi-Opango became the president after the assassination of Ngouabi in March 1977.
He then served the office of the presidency for almost two years until he was forced to resign in February 1979. He was accused of attempting to form a “rightist faction” in the PCT and was held in detention for several years by his successor President Denis Sassou Nguesso. He was then placed under house arrest and was expelled from the PCT and his property confiscated in 1979. He was also demoted from the rank of general to that of private. He then participated in various political contests and was severally accused of trying to oust the sitting president. He was then released with the president citing national cohesion, unity, and peace. He also vied for presidency in the August 1992 election taking sixth place with 3.49% of the vote. In the 1993 parliamentary election, he allied with President Pascal Lissouba and he was then appointed as Prime Minister on June 23, 1993. In 1997 violence erupted that led to his political exile in Cote d’Ivoire and France after the current president, Denis Sassou Nguesso took the presidency. He later went back to Congo in 1997 but he divided his time between Congo and France because of health problems.
Joachim Yhombi-Opango died Monday 30th March 2020 at the age of 81 of Coronavirus in France. He had been ill before he contracted the virus that has claimed over 37000 lives across the globe. Joachim Yhombi-Opango died in a Paris hospital.
Joachim Yhombi-Opango is one among several prominent Africans like Aurlus Mabele the Congolese of Soukous music that died at 66. The singer contracted Coronavirus and died in Paris. So far more than 166000 individuals have recovered since the pandemic appeared in Wuhan, China last December.