For African leaders who bravely confronted the former colonial powers’ incessant imperialist tendencies, this usually ended with assassination. Since 1963, France has successfully assassinated 22 African presidents.
France has never hesitated to remove presidents who posed a threat to their imperialist agenda. France has consistently indulged and collaborated with other Western powers to assassinate African presidents they see as a threat to their interests.
The three French intelligence agencies, the Service for Foreign Documentation and Counter-Espionage (SDECE), the DGSE, and the DST have been very active in doing the dirty work, including coups and assassinations.
French crimes in Africa consisted of disinformation campaigns, “control of black governors” (puppet presidents), and military propaganda. France has always taken care to keep the former colonies under its firm hand. This explains the existence of the CFA franc, a colonial currency that keeps the former colonies from achieving full economic independence.
For example, Thomas Shankara, former president of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987, denied being under the influence French, was banished from the earth, with France playing a significant role in this horrific assassination.
The list of African presidents assassinated
1. Sylvanus Olympio, 1963, President of Togo
Silvanus Epifanio Olimpio was a Togolese politician who served as Prime Minister and then President of Togo from 1958 until his assassination in 1963. He came from the influential Olimpio family, including his uncle Octaviano Olimpio, one of the richest men in the early 1900s.
2. Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi, 1966, President of Nigeria
Major Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi was Nigeria’s first military head of state. He seized power amidst the ensuing chaos after an army coup on 15th January 1966 that decapitated Nigeria’s leadership. Some story said that he tied to a Land Rover and dragged along the road, while some maintained that Ironsi was shot dead. Whichever the way it was, one thing is sure, Ironsi was assassinated.
3. Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, 1969, President of Somalia
Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, also known as Abdirashid Sharmarke, was Prime Minister of the Somali Republic from 12th July 1960 to 14th June 1964 and President of the Somali Republic from 6th July 1967 until his assassination on 15th October 1969. He was the father of Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke.
4. Abeid Amani Karume, 1972, President of Zanzibar (Tanzania)
Abeid Amani Karume was the first president of Zanzibar. He gained the title due to the revolution that led to the overthrow of His Majesty Sir Jamshid ibn Abdallah, the last ruling Sultan of Zanzibar, in January 1964. Karume was killed in April 1972 in the city of Zanzibar. Four bandits shot him dead as he was playing bao at the Afro-Shirazi Party headquarters.
5. Richard Ratsimandrava, 1975, President of Madagascar
6. François Tombalbaye, 1975, President of Chad
François Tombalbay, also known as N’Garta Tombalbay, was a Chadian teacher and trade unionist who served as Chad’s first president. He ruled as a dictator until his deposition and assassination by Chadian soldiers in 1975.
7. Murtala-Ramat Mohammed, 1976, President of Nigeria
General Murtala Mohammed was a Nigerian army general who was Nigeria’s 4th head of state from 1975 until his assassination in 1976.
8. Marien Ngouabi, 1977, President of Congo-Brazzaville
Marien Ngouabi was the third president of the Republic of the Congo from 1st January 1969 to 18th March 1977. At 2.30 pm on 18th March 1977, President Ngouabi was assassinated. Those accused of involvement in the assassination were put on trial, and some were executed.
9. Teferi Bante, 1977, President of Ethiopia
Brigadier General Tafari Bente was an Ethiopian politician who served as head of Ethiopia as chairman of the Derg, the ruling military junta. His official title was Chairman of the Provisional Military Administrative Council. On 3rd February 1977, Teferi Bante and six high-ranking members of the ruling military council were murdered when their plot to seize power from the majority council was foiled.
10. Anouar el-Sadate, 1981, president of Egypt
Muhammad Anwar el-Sadat was an Egyptian politician who served as Egypt’s third president from 15th October 1970 until his assassination by fundamentalist army officers on 6th October 1981.
11. William-Richard Tolbert, 1981, President of Liberia
William Richard Tolbert, Jr. was Liberia’s 20th president from 1971 to 1980, when he was assassinated in a coup led by Samuel Doe. Trained as a civil servant, he entered the country’s House of Representatives in 1943 for the right Whig party, then the only established party.
12. Thomas Sankara, 1987, President of Burkina-Faso
Thomas Isidore Noel Shankara was a Burkinabé military officer and social revolutionary who served as president of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987. On 15th October 1987, Shankara was assassinated by an armed group and twelve other officials in a coup organized by his former colleague Blaise Compaore.
13. Ahmed Abdallah, 1989, President of Comoros
Ahmed Abdallah Abderemane was a Comorian politician. He was a member of the French Senate from 1959 to 1973 and President of Comoros from 25th October 1978 until his death. At the 1999 trial for Abdallah’s murder in Paris, Denard claimed that Abdallah Jaffar murdered Abdallah in a coup led by his half-brother Ali Soylich
14. Samuel-Kanyon Doe, 1989, President of Liberia
Samuel Kanyon Doe was a Liberian politician who served as Liberian leader from 1980 to 1990, first as a military leader and then as a civilian. As a senior sergeant in Liberia’s Armed Forces, Doe staged a violent coup d’état in April 1980, which resulted in his becoming the de facto head of state. On 9th September 1990, he was assassinated by rebels.
15. Mohamed Boudiaf, 1992, President of Algeria
Mohammed Boudiaf, also known as Si Tayeb El Watani, was an Algerian political leader and one of the revolutionary National Liberation Front founders, which led the Algerian war of independence. Boudiaf was expelled shortly after Algerian independence and did not return to Algeria for 27 years. Boudiaf was assassinated by one of his bodyguards, Lambarek Boumaarafi.
16. Melchior Ndadaye, 1993, President of Burundi
Melchior Ndadaye was a Burundian intellectual and politician. He was the first democratically elected and the first Hutu president of Burundi after winning a landmark election in 1993. On 21st October 1993, although he attempted to smooth over the country’s bitter ethnic divisions, his reforms provoked discontent among soldiers in the Tutsi-dominated army, and he was assassinated
17. Cyprien Ntaryamira, 1994, President of Burundi
Cyprien Ntaryamira was president of Burundi’s Hutu from 5th February 1994 until his death two months later, when the plane in which he was traveling with Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down near Kigali, Rwanda.
18. Juvenal Habyarimana, 1994, President of Rwanda
Juvenal Habyarimana was Rwanda’s second president from 1973 to 1994. He was nicknamed “Kinani”, which means “invincible” in Kinyarwanda. The assassination was on the evening of 6th April 1994, a plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntariamira, both Hutu, was shot down as it prepared to land in Kigali, Rwanda.
19. Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara, 1999, President of Niger
General Ibrahim Bare Mainasara was a military officer and diplomat in Niger who ruled the country until his assassination in a military coup in April 1999.
20. Laurent-Désiré Kabila, 2001, President of Congo-Kinshasa
Laurent-Désiré Kabila, or simply Laurent Kabila, was a Congolese revolutionary and politician who served as the third president of the Democratic Republic of Congo from 17th May 1997, when he deposed Mobutu Sese Seko, until his assassination on 16th January 2001.
21. João Bernardo Vieira, 2009, President of Guinea-Bissau
João Bernardo “Nino” Vieira was a Guinean politician who was President of Guinea-Bissau from 1980 to 1984, a second time from 1984 to 1999, and a third time from 2005 to 2009. After seizing power in 1980, Vieira ruled for 19 years and won a multi-party presidential election in 1994. In the early hours of 2nd March 2009, Vieira was shot dead by a group of soldiers as he fled his private residence.
22. Muammar Gaddafi, 2011, President of Libya
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Qaddafi, commonly known as Colonel Qaddafi, was a Libyan revolutionary, politician, and political theorist. Muammar Gaddafi was captured and killed on 20th October 2011 during the battle for Sirte. National Transitional Council forces captured Gaddafi, and he was assassinated shortly afterward.