This year in many ways will be remembered for the COVID-19 pandemic but also one that
claimed a number of former African leaders.
Death has usually played a big role in news coverage across the continent. Last year we profiled a number of high profile deaths that shook the continent.
In 2020, the continent witnessed the deaths of jazz icon Manu Dibango and famed football administrator Pape Diouf and the killing of Ethiopia star musician Hachaalu Hundessa.
This article however is zooming in on the death of former African leaders – be they ex-presidents or Prime Ministers.
Here is our list of our team put together for our 2020 end of year review.
February: Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya's second president
Kenya’s former president, Daniel Arap Moi died aged 95. A statement from the presidency confirmed in February.
Moi, a former schoolteacher was president of Kenya for 24 years, becoming the country’s
longest-serving president, he had been in hospital for over a month at the time of his death.
Despite being called a dictator by critics, Moi enjoyed strong support from a large cross-
section of citizens and was seen as a uniting figure when he took power after founding
President Jomo Kenyatta died in office in 1978.
He turned Kenya into a one-party state for years, but in 1991, Moi yielded to demands for a
multi-party state due to internal pressure and external pressure from the West.
Multi-party elections in 1992 and 1997 were marred by political and ethnic violence that
critics asserted were caused by the state. He left power in 2002 handing over to Mwai Kibaki.
April: Togo mourns ex-PM Edem Kodjo
Togo mourned the passing of its former Prime Minister Edem Kodjo.
The former diplomat died at the age of 82 in the French capital Paris on April 11.
Kodjo spent two stints as Prime Minister, the first period from 1994 to 1996 and again from
2005 to 2006 under former president Gnassingbe Eyadema.
He also held a number of ministerial posts years before.
He served in Eyadéma’s government as Minister of Finance from 1973 to 1976 and as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1976 to 1978.
He was elected as the Secretary-General of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) at its summit in Khartoum on July 18–22, 1978.
**June: Nkurunziza dies **
Burundi’s outgoing president at the time Pierre kurunzizadied in office just after presidential polls
and when his successor, Evariste Ndayishimiye, was about to be sworn into office.
The official account said he died of respiratory issues even though some accounts especially on social media said it was COVID-19.
Nkurunziza’s years in office ended officially with the fast forwarded swearing in of Ndayishimiye.
The deceased who was in office for 15 years, had been hailed for accepting to step down despite
the opportunity to continue in office. He came into office aged 40 and bowed out at 55 years.
June: Emmanuel Issoze Ngondet, ex-Gabonese PM
In June, Gabonese president Ali Bongo tweeted the death of former Prime Minister Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet.
Bongo described the ex-PM as a “great servant of the state, who dedicated his life to Gabon and Gabonese. Emmanuel Issoze Ngondet left today, too soon.
It is a huge loss for our country,” the president said at the time. Issoze-Ngondet served as Prime
Minister between 2016 and 2019 till he was replaced by Julien Nkoghe Bekale who has since been
replaced by christiane ossouka raponda of the post
July: Ivory Coast PM Amadou Gon Coulibaly
Ivory Coast was all set for a new president when October 2020 polls were held but all that changed when the then Prime Minister “Amadou Gon Coulibaly died at the age of 61 in the capital Abidjan.
The deceased had returned home only a week earlier after a two-month absence during which period he was receiving medical treatment in France.
Coulibaly, a close ally of Ouattara had held the Prime Minister portfolio since 2017.
He was the presidential candidate of the ruling party but with his death, Ouattara rescinded a
promise to quit, he went ahead to contest in a poll boycotted by the opposition winning by over
95% of votes.
**July: Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania **
Tanzania’s former President "Benjamin William Mkapa, died aged 81, the presidency announced in July this year.
He died whiles on admission at a Dar es Salaam hospital.
President Magufuli declared a seven-day national mourning period with flags flown at half-mast.
Born on November 12, 1938; Mr Mkapa led Tanzania from 1995 to 2005 before handing over to Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.
Mkapa was the third president of the East African nation and led several regional peace mediation efforts in office and afterwards.
Key among his efforts being his role in mediating Kenya’s 2007 post-election crisis.
November: Ghana’s Jerry John Rawlings
Former President was Ghana’s longest serving leader at the time of his death at the age of 73.
He had served about a third of Ghana’s post-independence years.
He died on November 12th Ghana celebrated 63 years of independence this year with Rawlings serving 20 years in total.
Two stints as a military ruler and two terms as democratically elected president. He exited to regional applause in 2000.
He died whiles on admission at the nation’s premier hospital, the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
Jerry Rawlings had been on admission at the hospital for about a week for an undisclosed ailment.
State-run Graphic Online reported that Mr. Rawlings felt sick after his mother's burial about three
Another local outlet disclosed that he had contracted coronavirus at the time of his demise.
November: Amadou Toumani Toure of Mali
Former Malian PresidentAmadou Toumani
The presidency confirmed that he passed away aged 72 at a hospital in Turkey.
He was recovering from a heart operation he had in Bamako before his condition deteriorated,
prompting his evacuation to Turkey, according to his doctor.
Touré was president of Mali from 2002 to 2012 before being overthrown in a military coup.
His successor Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was also overthrown this year by a mutiny following
widespread anti-government protests.
November: Mamadou Tandja of Niger
Niger’s former president also died late November aged 82, the government announced.
Tandja's death was announced in a statement read on national television, with a decree of three days of national mourning imposed.
The retired army colonel promised to restore stability to the West African nation after he won elections in November 1999.
He won two elections after the country's return to civilian rule in 1999.
He was overthrown a decade later following an alteration of the constitution to allow him
to stay in power.
He was re-elected in 2004, a first in Niger and was sharply criticized by opponents a year after over his handling of a hunger crisis, caused by drought and locusts plague.
Africa’s prominent COVID-19 deaths
** November:** Sadiq al-Mahdi of Sudan was last democratically elected prime minister and leader of
the country's largest political party, died of COVID-19 in a hospital in the United Arab Emirates, his
party confirmed in late November. He was 84.
Al-Mahdi was taken to Abu Dhabi for treatment in early November.
His body was flown back to the country for burial. The government and the National Ummah
Party were prominent during the ceremony.
Al-Mahdi was overthrown in a 1989 coup that brought longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir to power.
Nearly three decades later, Al-Mahdi's party allied with a pro-democracy uprising forced the military to overthrow al-Bashir in April 2019.
**April: Mahmud Jibril – Ex-Libyan PM **
Mahmud Jibril was a former head of the rebel government that overthrew Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. He died of the coronavirus in an Egyptian hospital, his party confirmed on April 5.
The 68-year-old former Prime Minister was in Cairo where he had been hospitalised for two weeks.
He was admitted to the hospital on March 21 after suffering a heart attack, before testing positive for the new coronavirus and being quarantined.
He served as head of the interim government in March 2011, a few weeks after the outbreak of the Arab Spring uprising in Libya.
Somalia mourns ex-PM Nur Hassan Hussein
Somalia's former Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein, also known as “Nur Adde,” died of
coronavirus in London. He was a police officer who trained as a lawyer, acquaintances hailed
him for his hands-on leadership.
The 82-year-old, was prime minister between November 2007 and February 2009. He was a
one-time attorney general under the tenure of President Siad Barre who was overthrown in
Jacques Joaquim Yhombi-Opango - ex-Congolese president
A former president of the Republic of Congo died after contracting coronavirus.
JacquesnJoaquim Yhombi-Opango breathed his last at the age of 81 in a Paris hospital.
His family confirmed that he had underlying health conditions before contracting the virus.
Yhombi-Opango was president of Congo-Brazzaville from April 1977 until he was toppled in
February 1979 by the current president Denis Sassou Nguesso.
He spent years in prison till the country introduced multi-party democracy in 1991.
He served as Prime Minister under the government of Pascal Lissouba between 1992 and
1997, until a civil war broke out in 1997. He went into exile in France, before being allowed
to return home 10 years later.
2019 list : deaths of presidents, ex-presidents
* Mohammed Morsi – ex-president of Egypt
* Beji Caid Essebsi – president of Tunisia
* Robert Gabriel Mugabe – ex-president of Zimbabwe
* Zine Al-Abideen Ben Ali – ex-president of Tunisia
* Dawda Jawara – ex-president of The Gambia
* France-Albert René, ex-president of the Seychelles