It is rare for a President to die in office, but in Africa the rate seems somewhat high and hence the need to take a look at some of the African Presidents that have died while in office. Ten African Presidents died while in office over a 4 year period from 2008 to 2012, 2012 being the worse year of Presidential deaths. Below are the top 10 Presidents who died of mysterious causes.
a. Levy Mwanawasa (59) – Zambia
Levy Patrick Mwanawasa was the third Republican President of Zambia. He ruled the country from January 2002 until his death in August 2008. He is credited for having initiated a campaign to rid the country of corruption.
On 8 December 1991 Mwanawasa was involved in a serious traffic accident in which his aide died on the spot. He suffered multiple body injuries and was flown to Johannesburg, South Africa for medical treatment. He remained hospitalised for three months. A lasting effect of the accident was his noticeably slurred speech. A commission of inquiry was set up to investigate who was responsible for the alleged assassination attempt.
10. Lansana Conte (74) – Guinea
Lansana Conté was the second President of Guinea, serving from 3 April 1984 until his death in December 2008. He was a Muslim and a member of the Susu ethnic group.
His cause of death was not disclosed.
9. Joao Barnado Viera (69) – Guinea-Bissau
João Bernardo “Nino” Vieira was the President of Guinea-Bissau from 1980 to 1984, for the second time from 1984 to 1999, and for the third time from 2005 to 2009.
He died in a bomb blast attack that was said to have been a retaliatory attack by soldiers.
8. Omar Bongo Ondimba (73) – Gabon
El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba was a Gabonese politician who was President ofGabon for more than 41 years from 1967 until his death in 2009.
He was the second president of Gabon and ruled till June 2009, when he died of a heart attack. He had ruled the country for 41 years by the time of his death.
7. Muammar Gaddafi (69) – Libya
Muammar Gaddafi, the deposed dictator of Libya, died on 20 October 2011 during the Battle of Sirte.
Gaddafi was found hiding in a culvert west of Sirte and captured by National Transitional Council forces. He was killed shortly afterwards.
6. Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (58) – Nigeria
Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was the President of Nigeria and the 13th Head of State. He served as governor of Katsina State in northern Nigeria from 29 May 1999 to 28 May 2007.
He died in Office in May 2010 after battling with heart and kidney related problems for a long time.
5. Malam Bacai Sanha (64) – Guinea-Bissau
Malam Bacai Sanhá was a Guinea-Bissau politician who was President ofGuinea-Bissau from 8 September 2009 to 9 January 2012.
He was the president of Guinea Bissau. He died while still in office in January 2012 in Paris, France at a medical centre.
4. Bingu wa Mutharika (78) – Malawi
Bingu wa Mutharika was a Malawian politician and economist who was President of Malawi from May 2004 until his death.
His death was left unannounced for days over fears that there would be a power struggle. He was succeeded by the first African female president Joyce Banda.
3. John Atta Mills (68) – Ghana
John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills was a Ghanaian politician, a lawyer, a legal scholar, a tax expert and a sports administrator who served as President of Ghana from 2009 until his death in 2012.
He was the president of Ghana till July 2012, when he died. The cause of his death was said to have been throat cancer.
2. Meles Zenawi (57) – Ethiopia
Meles Zenawi Asres was the Prime Minister of Ethiopia from 1995 until his death in 2012. From 1989, he was the chairman of the Tigrayan Peoples’ Liberation Front.
The government said he was taken ill suddenly and died in Belgium while undergoing treatment. His health status had been an issue before his sudden death as he missed a July 2012 summit in Addis Ababa.
1. Michael Sata (77) – Zambia
Michael Chilufya Sata was a Zambian politician who was the fifth President ofZambia, from 23 September 2011 until his death on 28 October 2014. A social democrat, he led the Patriotic Front, a major political party in Zambia.
He is the latest African president to die in office. He was the president ofZambia till October 2014, when he died of throat complications.