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Meet The 3 African Leaders Who Gave Up Power By Choice Before Their Tenure Ended

On September 22, 2008, the South African parliament convened to accept the resignation of President Thabo Mbeki.

Mbeki had officially stepped down on September 21 after calls by the ruling African National Congress for his resignation over allegations that he used the law-enforcement system to undermine Jacob Zuma’s chances of succeeding him.

Photo: Wiki CC

Interestingly, nine years later President Zuma would be forced out of the presidency due to corruption allegations.

Mbeki and Zuma are among African presidents who were forced to resign. Others include Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compaore,  Egypt’s Mohammed Morsi and Hosni Mubarak,  Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo, and Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh.

While all these presidents were forced out of power, some African presidents made a personal choice to resign from their country’s top job for one reason or another.

Photo: Wiki CC

Kenneth Kaunda

The first president of Zambia was unimpressed by the tribal and ethnic differences in the country that he offered to resign as president instead of ruling over a divided nation.

It is reported that the Kaunda was shocked at how the unity that saw Zambia get independence from Britain in 1964 disappeared and division started to seep into the fabric of the nation.  The division became visible on February 5, 1968, during the National Council party conference.

Kaunda announced his resignation and walked out of the conference happily, sure that he had made the right choice. He went ahead and prepared himself for exit from the state house and presidency as well as set the stage for the person next in line.


Surprised by this move, the party members and other government officials made it their mission to get back their president and to quash all the ethnic differences they had displayed in the meeting.

It took them a long while but Kaunda decided to retract his resignation. He ruled the country until 1991.

Photo: Club Madrid

Cassam Uteem

The second president of Mauritius had two choices: either pass the anti-terrorism bill or resign as president.  He decided to resign instead of signing a law he had said was a threat to “human rights and individual freedom.”

“Reactions in the country following my resignation confirmed my conviction that the Bill, in the form it was presented, was a threat to human rights and individual freedom. As a result, fundamental amendments were to be made on it, failing which, it appeared to me, particularly difficult to endorse the Bill,” Uteem explained.

He was replaced by Angidi Chettiar, who later resigned over the same bill.

Photo: Alchetron

François Lonseny Fall
Fall served as the Prime Minister of Guinea for two months in 2004. He submitted his resignation because he felt that President  Lansana Conté did not give him the chance to fix the economy.
He would not be replaced as Prime Minister until December 24, 2004.  Fall would then be posted as Special Representative for Somalia by Kofi Annan in 2005 and went ahead to take on other diplomatic duties.


Written by How Africa

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