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'Democracy Rules': 7 Shortest Serving African Presidents

Africa is renowned for having some of the longest serving presidents in the world. Some rose to power through coups while others took over ...

Africa is renowned for having some of the longest serving presidents in the world. Some rose to power through coups while others took over from their fathers in monarchies such as Swaziland. 

There are also those who hold the distinction of ruling for the shortest time. Most of them ousted from power through coups, while some were peacefully forced out of office.

Some of the shortest ruling leaders in Africa include:

Yusuf Kironde Lule – Uganda

He is the shortest serving president in independent Uganda. Lule was president for just 68 days. He was elected to as an interim leader on April 13, 1979. On June 20, 1979, he was overthrown by the National Consultative Commission, a quasi-parliament that had elected him to power.

The commission accused Lule of making governmental appointments without consulting it. He died of kidney failure in 1984.

Gen. Tito Okello – Uganda

He came into power on July 29, 1985, after ousting President Milton Obote in a military coup. General Okello also served an army commander in the Uganda National Liberation Army, in Obote’s government. General Okello was overthrown on January 26, 1986.
The Late Thomas Sankara
He fled to exile in neighboring Kenya and Tanzania, before later moving to Europe. He died on July 3, 1996, aged 82 years.

Thomas Sankara – Burkina Faso

He was president of Burkina Faso from August 4, 1983 to October 15, 1987. Sankara came to power through a military coup when he was a captain in the Burkina Faso army, aged 33 years. 

He was overthrown by Blaise Compaore. He changed the nation’s name from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, which means ‘land of upright men’.

Sankara was regarded across the continent as Africa’s ‘Che Guevara’ for fighting imperialism on the continent and Marxist approaches to leadership. He was assassinated by a group of soldiers on October 1987.

Melchior Ndadaye – Burundi

He was the first democratically elected president of Burundi and the first Hutu to lead the central African nation. Ndadaye rose to power on July 10, 1993 after winning democratic elections in 1993.

He was assassinated three months later on October 21, 1993, by Tusti soldiers in a military coup. This led to the decade-long civil war that pitted Hutus against Tustis. More than 200,000 Burundians were killed in the ethnic-fuelled violence that ended in 2005.

Mohamed Morsi – Egypt

He is the fifth president of Egypt. Morsi ascended to power on June 30, 2012. He was the first democratically elected leader of the North African nation. He was forced out of office by the country’s military on July 3, 2013.

This was after widespread protests by Egyptians as the nation struggled to politically stabilize after long-serving president, Hosni Mubarak. 

In May 2015, Morsi was sentenced to death for various charges that included spying for foreign militants and ordering the arrest and torture of demonstrators who were opposed to his rule.

Robert Guei – Ivory Coast

He was the third president of Ivory Coast. Guei was a military ruler who led the cocoa-rich nation from December 24, 1999 to October 26, 2000. He came to power after a military coup that overthrew President Henri Konan Bedie on Christmas Eve.

Guei headed a military junta until elections were held in October 2000. He was defeated by Laurent Gbagbo but it took days of street protests that forced him to hand over power to Gbagbo. He fled to exile in Gouessesso, a village on the Ivory Coast-Liberia border.

He was killed on September 19, 2002, alongside his family, when civil war broke in the West African nation.

Michel Djotodia – Central African Republic

He was the first Muslim president of the Christian- dominated Central African Republic. Djotodia led the tiny Central Africa nation from March 24, 2013 to January 10, 2014. Before his ascension to power, he was leader of the Seleka rebel group.

The militant group led the ousting of President Francois Bozize in March 2013. It has since fought against Christians in a civil war that followed Bozize’s ouster from power. 

He was forced out of office by the international community after he was unable to end the Muslim-Christians fuelled civil war. - Online Sources 

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