Africa has the highest rate of leaders that have died while in office and such deaths have most often been from illness, assassination, execution, suicide and accident.
Here are African leaders that died in office from 2000 till date:
1. Laurent-Désiré Kabila, president of Congo – January 16, 2001.
Laurent-Désiré Kabila was a Congolese revolutionary and politician who served as the third President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from May 17, 1997, when he overthrew Mobutu Sese Seko, until his assassination on January 16, 2001.
He was succeeded eight days later by his 29-year-old son Joseph .
After Kabila proclaimed himself president, he suspended the Constitution, and changed the name of the country from Zaire to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the country’s official name from 1964 to 1971.
Kabila was shot and killed in his office on 16 January 2001.
2. Gnassingbé Eyadéma, president of Togo – 5 February 2005
Gnassingbé Eyadéma was the President of Togo from 1967 until his death in 2005.
He participated in two successful military coups , in January 1963 and January 1967, and became President on 14 April 1967.
He ultimately consolidated power again and won multiparty presidential elections in 1993, 1998 and 2003.
On 5 February 2005, he died on board a plane 250 km south of Tunis, Tunisia .
Officials stated that the cause of death was a heart attack.
3. Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, president of Zambia – 19th August 2008
Levy Patrick Mwanawasa was the third President of Zambia. He ruled the country from January 2002 until his death in August 2008.
Mwanawasa is credited for having initiated a campaign to rid the corruption situation in Zambia during his term.
Mwanawasa experienced a mild stroke in April 2006.
He ran for a second term in the presidential election held on 28 September 2006 and won. On 29 June 2008, while in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, for an African Union summit, Mwanawasa was hospitalised due to a second stroke.
The news of his death was confirmed on 19 August.
4. Lansana Conte, president of Guinea –22nd December 2008
After 24 years, Lansana Conte died of undisclosed illness at the age of 74.
He battled complications from diabetes and heart-related conditions. From April 1984 until his death in December 2008, he served as the second president of the country.
Conte assumed office as Guinea’s head of state and military ruler after leading a 1984 coup that toppled the government.
In 1993, Conte resigned from his military position in order to run in the 1993 Guinean presidential polls.
He won the election and secured a five-year term.
Conte contested and won two more elections and continued as president despite his poor state of health that saw him constantly seeking treatment overseas.
5. Joao Bernardo Vieira, president of Guinea-Bissau – 2nd March 2009
Joao Bernardo Vieira, the president of Guinea-Bissau, was assassinated in his own country in March 2009 at the age of 69.
He was the head of state for a combined 31 years. In 1978, he became prime minister and seized power in 1980 and ruled for 19 years.
He morphed into a civilian president and led for another four-year period.
In 1994 he morphed into a civilian president and led for another 4-year period before he was thrown out of power and into exile when civil war broke out in 1998.
Vieira returned from exile in 2005, won another round of presidential elections, but was assassinated March 2nd, 2009.
6. Omar Bongo, president of Gabon – 8th June 2009
He was one of the continent’s longest serving leaders till his death in 2009.
He came to power in 1967 and ruled for 42 years and died at the age of 72 years in the Spanish city of Barcelona on June 8th, 2009, after months of battling advanced intestinal cancer and other related illnesses.
Bongo collected immense private wealth while his country lived in poverty despite Gabon’s huge revenue earnings from its extensive oil deposits
7. Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, president of Nigeria – 5th May 2010
He was the second civilian president under Nigeria’s current constitution.
Despite an election campaign that was punctuated by the absence of the candidate on the campaign trail and reports of a near fatal health crises, Yar’adua won the April 2007 presidential polls.
Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, the president of Nigeria, died at the age of 58 in 2011.
The known cause of death was Pericarditis (inflammation of a membrane around the heart).
He had been in office for only three years.
8. Muammar Gaddafi, leader of Libya – 20th October 2011
One of the most flamboyant and controversial political leaders in Africa, Gaddafi’s rise and fall is the subject of much debate till date.
He was killed at the age of 69, by rebel forces that captured him in his hometown of Sirte following a NATO-backed revolution in 2011, after being its leader for 42 years.
He seized power from the Libyan monarchy following a bloodless military coup in 1969 but his leadership came to an end in the aftermath of the “Arab spring” revolution.
9. Malam Bacai Sanha, president of Guinea Bissau – 9th January 2012
Malam Bacai Sanha took over at a difficult time in the west African country.
He had previously served as head of parliament and acting president after the assassination of João Bernardo Vieira.
Throughout his stay in office, he suffered from health complications till his death in 2012.
He died of diabetes in Paris after four years as president at the age of 64.
10. Bingu wa Mutharika, president of Malawi – 5th April 2012
Mutharika until his death was credited with broad successes in Malawi’s food and agriculture sector.
However, his reputation was damaged by widespread public protests over his purchase of a $14 million (13.2 million euros) presidential jet.
He came to power in 2004 through the ballot box and secured re-election but died before his second term ended.
The known cause of death is believed to be heart-related issues.
He suffered a heart attack in April 2012 and died two days later, at the age of 78 .
11. John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills, president of Ghana – 24th July 2012
John Atta Mills of Ghana was barely three years into his four-year presidential term when he died of a cardiac-related condition in 2012.
He was also credited with economic and social reforms during his over three-year reign.
He became president in 2008 after beating the ruling party’s candidate at the polls.
He passed on aged 68.
The cause of death was reported as a stroke and throat cancer.
12. Meles Zenawi, president of Ethiopia – 20th August 2012
Zenawi was by far the most powerful Ethiopian politician from the 90s through to the 2000s.
He is till date the one man who has served as President (1991 – 1995) and Prime Minister (1995 till his death).
He ruled the country for 21 years.
He was loved for introducing multi-party politics to the country but loathed for the violent crackdown on protests by the Oromo ethnic group.
Zenawi rose to power in 1991 and was the leader of the country for over two decades.
He led the country right after fighting the Derg regime in a liberation war that lasted years.
Meles Zenawi died in August 2012 in Belgium at the age of 57 of an undisclosed infection.
13. Michael Sata, president of Zambia – 28th October 2014
Michael Sata died at the age of 77 of an undisclosed illness in the United Kingdom on October 28th, 2014.
After his election in 2011, rumors about his failing health spread across Zambia.
His continuous absence at major state functions raised concerns about his well-being, even though his spokesmen said he was in good health.
His cause of death is an “undisclosed illness”.
14. Pierre Nkurunziza, president of Burundi – 8th June 2020
Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza served as the ninth president of Burundi for almost 15 years from August 2005 until his death on June 8,2020, at the age of 55, after suffering a cardiac arrest.
In 2015, the announcement that he would run for a third term and plunged the country into chaos.
There was a failed coup attempt, hundreds of people died in clashes and tens of thousands fled the country.
After a change in the constitution, he was able to run for a further term but he decided to retire.
He announced his intention not to stand for re-election in 2020 and instead ceded power to Évariste Ndayishimiye, whose candidacy he had endorsed.
He died on 8 June 2020 shortly before the official end of his term.
15. Amadou Gon Coulibaly, president of Ivory Coast – 8th July 2020
He served as Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire from January 2017 until his death in July 2020.
He was the ruling party’s candidate in the 2020 Ivorian presidential election and had been among the favourites to win.
Coulibaly underwent heart surgery in 2012.
He went to France in May 2020, for a heart exam and rest, then returned to Ivory Coast on the 2nd of July .
On July 8, he became unwell during a weekly cabinet meeting and was taken to a hospital where he died.
He was 61 years old.
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Sources: Africanews.com, Wikipedia
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