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List of African women who have become presidents in the past

On Friday March 19, Samia Suluhu Hassan was sworn in as the sixth president of the United Republic of Tanzania two days after the death President John Magufuli.

As she took oath of office at State House in Dar es Salaam, she made history by becoming the first female President to lead Tanzania, East Africa’s second largest economy.

But before her ascendency to power on Friday, there have been other women who have rose to the highest office in other countries. These include:

1. Sylvie Kinigi –Burundi

Sylvie Kinigi,born November 24, 1953 became the acting President of Burundi on October 27, 1993 following the assassination of President Mechior Ndabaye in an attempted coup. Ndadaye  was the first democratically elected president of Burundi- 1993-1994

Kinigi took over the reins after the ouster Francois Ngeze who had taken over power after the coup. She became the first woman head of State in Africa and she also served as the first woman prime minister of Africa.

She was a caretaker President of Burundi.


2. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf –Liberia

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (born 29th October 1938) is a Liberian politician who served as the 24th President of Liberia from 2006 to 2018. Sirleaf was the first elected female head of state in Africa following years of political turbulence in the West African nation.

Internationally known as Africa’s “Iron Lady,” President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a leading promoter of peace, justice and democratic rule.

3. Rose Francine Rogombé -Gabon

Rose Francine Rogombé (20 September 1942 – 10 April 2015) was a Gabonese politician who was Acting President of Gabon from June 2009 to October 2009, following the death of long-time President Omar Bong – 2009


4. Monique Ohsan-BellepeauMauritius

Monique Ohsan-Bellepeau, (born 1942) is a Mauritian politician and was Vice President of Mauritius from November 2010 to April 2016.She was acting President of Mauritius from 31 March 2012 to 21 July 2012 when Sir Anerood Jugnauth resigned up to the inauguration of Kailash Purryag to the office.

She was again acting President from 29 May 2015 to 5 June 2015 when Kailash Purryag resigned up to the inauguration of Ameenah Gurib to the office.

Monique was a journalist and a news announcer on the national TV channel, the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation.

5 .Joyce Banda Malawi

Joyce Hilda Banda, born 12 April 1950, is a Malawian politician who was the President of Malawi from 7 April 2012 to 31 May 2014 after the death of Bingu wa Mutharika .

She was Malawi’s first female president and Africa’s second. Voted as Africa’s most powerful woman by Forbes Magazine for two years running and voted as one of the most powerful women in the world, Her Excellency Dr. Joyce Banda is a champion for the rights of women, children, the disabled, and other marginalized groups.

6. Catherine Samba-PanzaCentral African Republic

Catherine Samba-Panza (born 26 June 1956) is a Central African lawyer and politician who served as interim President of the Central African Republic from 2014 to 2016. She was the first woman to hold the post of head of state in that country, as well as the eighth woman in Africa to do so.



7. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim- Mauritius

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim (born 17 October 1959) is a Mauritian politician and biodiversity scientist who served as the 6th President of Mauritius from 2015 to 2018.

In December 2014, she was selected to be the presidential candidate of the Alliance Lepep. After Kailash Purryag resigned on 29 May 2015, both Prime Minister Sir Anerood Jugnauth and Leader of the Opposition Paul Berenger positively welcomed her nomination, which was unanimously approved in a vote in the National Assembly.

Gurib-Fakim is the first woman elected as president of the country and is the third woman to have served as Head of State following Queen Elizabeth II and Monique Ohsan Bellepeau, who acted as President in 2012 following the resignation of President Anerood Jugnauth, and again in 2015 following the resignation of President Kailash Purryag.

She served as a 2019 keynote speaker of Cambridge University’s conference “Africa Together: Which Way Forward?” hosted by the African Society of Cambridge University.

8. Sahle-Work ZewdeEthiopia

Sahle-Work Zewde, (Born 21 February 1950) is an Ethiopian politician and the current President of Ethiopia, being the first woman to hold the office.

A career diplomat, she was elected president unanimously by members of the Federal Parliamentary Assembly on 25 October 2018.


9. Samia Suluhu Hassan-Tanzania

Samia Suluhu Hassan,(born 27 January 1960) is a Tanzanian politician who has been the sixth president of Tanzania since 19 March 2021, having taken office after the death of the previous president, John Magufuli, two days earlier. She  was sworn in on Friday March 19 2021 ,as the sixth president of the United Republic of Tanzania.

As she took oath of office at State House in Dar es Salaam, she made history by becoming the first female President to lead Tanzania, East Africa’s second largest economy.

PAN-AFRICAN DAILY TV: Prof. PLO Lumumba remembers the Legacy of LATE president Magufuli

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Written by Correspondent


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