While many African leaders successfully completed their tenures, some others died while in office.
There are those whose ‘cause of death’ are known while some others remain ‘undisclosed’ or ‘unknown.’
However, checks by THE NATION revealed most African Presidents who died in office passed on due to long-term illnesses, heart conditions, and even assassinations.
Here are African leaders who died in office:
· John Magufuli – Tanzania’s President John Magufuli died at 61 on Wednesday from a heart disease that had plagued him for a decade.
Magufuli had not been seen in public since Feb. 27, sparking rumors that he had contracted COVID-19. Officials denied on March 12 that he had fallen ill.
He was Tanzania’s first president to die while in office.
· Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi – (2020) – Pierre had been President of Burundi for 15 years and had no plans of stepping down.
However, he died when his successor, Evariste Ndayishimiye, was about to be sworn into office. He came into office at 40 and bowed out at 55 years. Nkurunzinza suddenly passed of a heart attack in June 2020.
· Michael Sata (2014) – Michael Sata died at 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.
· Meles Zenawi (2012) – The former Prime Minister of Ethiopia died in August of 2012 in Belgium at 57 of an undisclosed infection.
He led Ethiopia for a total of 21 years as President from 1991 to 1995 and as Prime Minister from 1995 to 2012. He was known for introducing multi-party democracy.
· John Atta Mills (2012) – Atta Mills died in his home country of stroke and throat cancer at 68. He won the presidential election in 2008 and was in office for only three years.
· Bingu wa Mutharika (2012) – Another President to die in 2012 is Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi.
He suffered a heart attack in April and died two days later at 78.
His tenure was eight years long and he achieved broad success with his food and agricultural policies.
· Malam Bacai Sanha (2012) – In 2012 Malam Bacai Sanha suffered from diabetes and died in Paris after four years as President at 64.
Throughout his time in office, he suffered from several health complications and was continually in and out of the hospital.
· Moammar Gadhafi (2011) – A victim of assassination, Gadhafi was killed at 69 by rebel forces in unclear circumstances in Libya after being its leader for 42 years.
He seized power from the Libyan monarchy following a blood less military coup in 1969 but his leadership came to an end in the aftermath of the “Arab spring” revolution.
· Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (2010) – Yar’Adua died at 58 from pericarditis in Nigeria. He had been in office for only three years.
His campaign was punctuated by the absence of the candidate on complete with reports of health-related complications.
After his election in April 2007, Yar’Adua’s health deteriorated quickly.
· Joao Bernardo Vieira (2009) The President of Guinea-Bissau was assassinated in March 2009 at 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 2005, Vieira won another round of presidential elections.
· Omar Bongo (2009) – Advanced intestinal cancer killed Omar Bongo in June 2009 in Barcelona, Spain, after being in office for 42 consecutive years in Gabon. He died at 72 and was one of the longest-serving rulers in history
· Lansana Conte (2008) – After 24 years, Lansana Conte of Guinea died of undisclosed illness at 74. He battled complications from diabetes and heart-related conditions.
From April 1984 until his death in December 2008, he served as second President of the country.
· Levy Mwanawas(2008) – Levy Patrick Mwanawasa was born in Northern Rhodesia (Now Zambia) in 1948. He studied law at the University of Zambia and went on to form his own law firm, Mwanawasa & Company.
He resigned as Vice President in 1994 and retired from politics in 1996. He returned in 2001 when he was elected as the presidential candidate by the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) for the 2001 elections. Mwanawasa won the elections and became Zambia’s third President. He died while serving his second term on 19 August 2008.
· Gnassingbe Eyadema (2005): President Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo was one of Africa’s longest serving heads of state. He died in office after ruling his country continuously for 38 years.
He reportedly suffered a heart attack in his hometown of Piya in southeastern Togo and died on his way to Europe for treatment.
Eyadema, a former army colonel, came to power in a 1967 coup.
· Muhammad Egal (2002) – The President of Somaliland died in 2002. His death was as a result of complications during a medical procedure at a South African military hospital, Somaliland officials said. He was 73. Egal was survived by his wife, Khultun Haji Dahir, and five children.
· Laurent Kabila (2001) – Laurent Desire Kabila, born 1939, Jadotville, Belgian Congo [now Likasi, Democratic Republic of the Congo]—died January 18, 2001).
He was the leader of a rebellion that overthrew President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire in May 1997.
He subsequently became President and restored the country’s former name, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
On January 16, 2001, Kabila was shot by a bodyguard at his presidential palace in Kinshasa.
· Ibrahim Maniassara (1999) – Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara, born May 9, 1949, Maradi, Niger, French West Africa — died April 9, 1999, Niamey, Niger).
He was a soldier, diplomat, and politician who orchestrated a coup in 1996 that overthrew Niger’s first democratically elected government. He subsequently served as President (1996–99) until his assassination.
In April 1999, however, he was machine-gunned at Niamey’s airport reportedly by members of the Presidential Guard.
· King Hassan II, King of Morocco (1999) – Mawlāy al-Ḥasan Muḥammad ibn Yūsuf, born July 9, 1929, Rabat, Mor, and died July 23, 1999, Rabat. He was King of Morocco from 1961 to 1999. He ruled Morocco for 38 years. Hassan was considered by pious Muslims to be a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (Ahl al-Bayt).
Hassan was succeeded by his son, Crown Prince Sīdī Muḥammad, whose name was restyled to Muḥammad VI when he ascended to the throne.