Whereas some countries boast up to five former presidents – be they democratically elected or military rulers – others can count none.
Most of those without ex-presidents are the countries where we have the sit-tight leaders, those that have held onto power for decades and yet show no signs of slowing down.
The most recent African country to have a former president is the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC. Where at 47-years-old Joseph Kabila has left office after 18 years in charge of sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest nation.
Kabila came to power in 2001 following the assassination of his father, he won two contested polls and managed to overstay him constitutional mandate by two whole years.
A day after taking office, the man who for a decade and over was Africa’s youngest leader hopped into a pick-up driving himself away from the presidential villa in the capital Kinshasa as he was seen off by his successor, Felix Tsihsekedi.
But Kabila drove off after barely twenty-four hours when he handed over executive authority to Tshisekedi. Agreeing to leave means he joined a group of former African presidents – a quite prestigious group across the continent.
With a starting point of 2015, this article lists former leaders who either served out their terms and exited or those that lost re-election bids. Plus the one that willingly left and other who was pushed.
Leaders who left office in 2015
- Jakaya Kikwete stepped down as Tanzania president – after his two constitutionally allowed mandate – handing over to John Pombe Mgufuli.
- Nigeria’s Goodluck Ebele Jonathan became the first incumbent under the current dispensation to lose to an opposition candidate. He was beaten by Muhammadu Buhari.
Leaders who left office in 2016
- John Dramani Mahama of Ghana like Jonathan failed to secure a second and final term in December 2016 losing to current President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
- Earlier in Benin, President Thomas Yayi Boni stepped down after two terms handing over to main opposition candidate at the time, now President Patrice Talon who beat Lionel Zinsou.
- The big news in 2016 was that of The Gambia where long-serving Yahya Jammeh lost and conceded in presidential polls.
Leaders who left office in 2017
- Jammeh backtracked and sought to hold on to power but was eventually forced out of power by military threats, he is currently on exile in Equatorial Guinea. Jammeh was replaced by President Adama Barrow.
- One of Africa’s longest serving presidents Eduardo dos Santos of Angola opted to leave office in 2017 handing over to his Defense Minister, Joao Lourenco.
- Somalia also replaced President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud with Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed Farmaajo in early 2017.
- The big coup in 2017 was in November when Robert Mugabe was forced out after a military coup only to be replaced by his fired veep, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Leaders who left office in 2018
- First to bow out was Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia, Africa’s first democratically elected female leader handed over to former world footballer of the year, George Weah in January.
- Embattled South African president Jacob Zuma was forced to resign in February after the ruling party picked his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa as president. Ramaphosa will lead the ANC into elections later this year.
- Back to West Africa, Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone handed over to main opposition Julius Maada Bio who won a poll runoff.
- Going by ruling party tradition, Botswana president Seretse Ian Khama handed over to his vice Eric Masisi to complete his second term and lead the party into October 2019 polls.
- Ethiopia also restored Africa’s lost female president late in the year when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed named decorated diplomat Sahle-Work Zewde as president after the exit of Mulatu Teshome.
Leaders who left office in 2019
- After a spillover of elections from 2018, Madagascar’s Andry Rajoelina regained the presidency after a heated race with fellow ex-president Marc Ravalomanana. Rajoelina took over from Hery Rajaonarimampianina – who lost in the first round of the race.
Kabila leaves office with considerable power vested in him
Kabila finally left post as president of the Democratic Republic of Congo having managed to extend his stay by two years. But clearly from the above he has pretty cool company.
Note must be taken of what is largely said to be a comeback plan for the former president who according to DRC laws, could stage a comeback to the presidency when next polls are held.
Analysts say with the coalition he leads having parliamentary majority and having so much influence across the security apparatus over the years, Kabila’s return would be just a matter of time if he really intends to retake the seat.
Shaban Abdur Rahman Alfa