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African leaders that have spent the shortest time in office

African leaders seem to have a special affinity with power, they never want to leave its seat. With many African countries being led by leaders who’ve held power over decades, we give you the surprising list of African leaders who have held power for just a short period, from just two days to a few months (although in most cases, not by choice).

In a continent touted for having long serving leaders, attention is taken away from those that served for short terms, either due to coups, or one political situation or the other. This list will surprise you a bit.

Christopher Elnathan Okoro Cole

Many assume that Siaka Stevens was Sierra Leone’s first president; an erroneous assumption that’s widely accepted. Christopher Elnathan Okoro Cole was the Chief Justice of Sierra Leone, and in April 1971,  after a republican constitution was introduced, he was made president, thus becoming Sierra Leone’s first president. Two days later, he handed power to Siaka Stevens who was the then Prime Minister.

Read: We remember young African revolutionary leaders who were assassinated

Yusuf Kironde Lule

Many people are probably more knowledgeable of Uganda’s Idi Amin and Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, than they are of Yusuf Kironde Lule. After Tanzania ousted Idi Amin from power, with help from the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNFL) headed by Lule, Lule was installed as the president on 13 April, 1979. He was toppled from government 68 days later on June 20, 1979.

Uganda’s shortest serving president, Yusuf Kironde Lule was sworn into office after Idi Amin was overthrown. Photo: Twitter/ MKyamutetera

Melchior Ndadaye

The Burundi Civil War has its roots in the assassination of the country’s first democratically elected president, Melchior Ndadaye, a Hutu who’d won the elections in 1993. In July 10, 1993 after escaping an assassination attempt in July 3, he was sworn in as president. Despite his cautious approach as president he was overthrown and killed on October 21 of that same year.

Melchior Ndadaye was Burundi’s first democratically elected president. He was killed in a coup shortly after he was sworn in as president. Photo: Twitter/ MorganaCusack

Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan

When Gen. Ibrahim Babangida resigned due to pressure for a democratic government to be established, power was handed to Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan who became Nigeria’s ninth president. Chief Shonekan became president of Nigeria on 26 August 1993. By November of that same year, another military coup took place, making Chief Shonekan’s three months government come to an abrupt halt.

Chief Ernest Shonekan was ucceeded by Sani Abacha as Military Head of State. Photo:Twitter/ Uncle_Kae

Many of the presidential terms were brought to an abrupt end by coup d’états. It makes one wonder whether in countries when democracy and opposition politics can’t thrive military intervention is the only way out to kick away long serving, and autocratic leaders on the continent.

However, the problem with the military interventions is the destabilisation that comes with it, most importantly the reluctance of the military to return power to civilian rule. It also disrupts the democratic process as has been the case in various west and north Africa countries.

Read: A response to Helen Zille’s, “there is a big difference between genocide and colonialism” statement

Countries such as Cape Verde, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia are few of the African countries where democratic rule is strong and power change has not been interrupted by the military.

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