Wire Service
1 minute read
18 Mar 2021
5:39 pm

Here’s a rundown of women presidents in Africa


After the passing of Tanzanian president John Magufuli, his vice-president Samia Suluhu Hassan is set to take over as the country's president.

Picture File: Tanzania's Vice President Samia Hassan Suluhu and the late president John Magufuli. Picture: Ericky Boniphace/AFP

As Tanzania’s vice-president Samia Suluhu Hassan is set to take over as head of state after the sudden death of John Magufuli, here’s a rundown of African women presidents.

Liberia: Pioneer Sirleaf

Dubbed “Africa’s Iron Lady”, Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made history when she became the continent’s first elected woman president in 2005.

The economist, a former international civil servant and finance minister, won a second term in 2011 and the Nobel Peace Prize the same year.

ALSO READ: Tanzania’s Hassan to make history as first female president

She stood down in 2018 at the end of her second mandate.

Sirleaf managed to maintain peace in the troubled West African country ravaged by civil wars, but her economic record was less strong and extreme poverty persists.

Malawi: Joyce Banda

Joyce Banda became Malawi’s first female president in 2012, stepping up from vice president to the position after the death of Bingu wa Mutharika.

She left the country in 2014 under a cloud, having lost the presidential election and facing questioning over a corruption scandal known as “Cashgate”.

She later returned to Malawi after four years in exile.

Central African Republic: Samba-Panza

The lawyer Catherine Samba-Panza was elected in 2014 as transition president when the country was in the grip of a civil war. She held the post until 2016.

She ran in the 2020 presidential election but lost to the incumbent.

Ceremonial presidents

In Mauritius the world-renowned biologist Ameenah Gurib-Fakim was elected by the National Assembly in 2015, becoming the first woman to hold the largely ceremonial role in the archipelago. Implicated in a financial scandal, she resigned in 2018.

In Ethiopia the diplomat Sahle-Work Zewde was elected president in 2018 by parliamentarians, also making her the first woman to hold the honorary role.


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