The African political scene since the attainment of independence from colonial masters has not been extremely positive as most African elections and politics have been characterized by civil wars, electoral wars and coup d’état. While some Presidents were killed while in office, there were others who weren’t removed from office through coercion but died naturally while in office.

Here is a list of African presidents who lost their lives while in office.


Michael Sata, President of Zambia (2014)

Michael Sata
Michael Sata

Zambia former president, Michael Sata is one of the most recent and influential African presidents to have died while in incumbency. Michael Sata died at the age of 77 on October 28th 2014 whiles in the United Kingdom attending to his health. Although the exact cause of his death is yet to be made public, it is believed that after he won the Zambia 2011 general elections, his health began to deteriorate. This made him spend more time outside the country for medical treatments than attending to his health.

Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia (2012)

Meles Zenawi
Meles Zenawi

Meles Zenawi is probably one of the longest ruling African president in the history of African presidency. He ruled and led Ethiopia for more than two decades, precisely 21 years. Meles Zenawi died on August of 2012 in Belgium at the age of 57 of an undisclosed infection. Although he ruled for 21 years, he is celebrated by the people of Ethiopia for introducing multi-party system in Ethiopia especially in the southern part.

John Atta Mills, President of Ghana (2012)

John Atta-Mills
John Atta-Mills

The dead of the 2012 Ghana sitting president, John Atta Mills, was a big blow to the people of Ghana and foreigners alike. Unlike other sitting presidents who died in foreign countries, the former president of Ghana died in his home country Ghana. Although the exact cause of his death is yet to be known, rumors are that, John Evans Atta Mills died from stroke and throat cancer at the age of 68. He won the presidential election in 2008 and was in office for only three years.


Bingu wa Mutharika, President of Malawi (2012)

Bingu wa Mutharika
Bingu wa Mutharika

The 2012 president of Malawi was particularly not famous among his people. He was widely criticized for spending a whopping amount of $ 14 million to procure a presidential private jet. Although he was infamous among his people, Bingu wa Mutharika attained success with his food and agricultural policies and initiatives. He ruled Malawi for 8years and died in 2012 two days after suffering a major heart attack.

Malam Bacai Sanha, President of Guinea-Bissau (2012)

The fourth leader to die in 2012 was Malam Bacai Sanha, the president of Guinea-Bissau. It is believed the visionary leader met his untimely demise at the hands of diabetes. Just like most of his colleagues, he died in Paris while attending to his health.

Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi

Muammar Gaddafi commonly known as Colonel Gaddafi was born in 1942 in Libya. He was a revolutionary leader, politician and a political theorist. He died on 20th October 2011 upon a joint collaboration between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO) and other rebel groups namely; Misrata when he was escaping to a valley known as Jarref valley for refuge. According to Othman al-Zintani who was the chief forensic pathologist in Libya said Gaddafi suffered from gun shots that caused his death.


Levy Patrick Mwanawasa

Levy Patrick Mwanawasa was the third President of Zambia. He was born on 3rd September,1948 and died 19th August,2008. He ruled as the president of Zambia from 2002 till his death in 2008. In 2006, he suffered from a mild stroke while in 2008 he suffered another stroke and was rushed to France for treatment and eventually died when he was receiving medical treatment from France. Many people described this sad news as a national disaster was they heard. Mwanawasa was married to Maureen Mwanawasa and had seven children.

Laurent Kabila

Laurent Kabila was a Congolese revolutionary leader and politician who served as the third President of the Democratic Republic of Congo from 17th May 1997 when he overthrew Mobutu Sese Seko until his assassination by one of his bodyguards in 16th January 2001. Kabila was shot to death in 2001 but the authorities managed to keep power which his son Joseph Kabila succeeded him after his death as the president of Zambia.135 people were arrested and tried by military tribunal following the death of Kabila. Colonel Eddy Kabila’s cousin was alleged the ringleader of the assassination. 25 people were sentenced to death but were not killed and 64 people were jailed while others were exonerated.

Samora Moisés Machel

He was a Mozambican military commander, politician and revolutionary. A socialist in the tradition of Marxism–Leninism. Machel died in office in 1986 when his presidential aircraft crashed near the Mozambican-South African border.



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