20 times African opposition leaders shockingly defeated incumbents

Ghana’s Electoral Commission on Saturday announced the result of the December 8 presidential election in that country, confirming the projected defeat of incumbent President John Mahama by Nana Akufo-Addo.

It is a season of populist revival no doubt, and a growing number of incumbents are being booted. From Italy to South Korea to The Gambia, the wave has been unmistakable.

The upsets have been particularly surprising for Africa, notorious for its sit-tight leaders. Yet, they are not entirely unprecedented.

Here is a list of opposition leaders who dethroned incumbents since 1967:

1967: Abdulrashid Ali Shermake defeated incumbent President Aden Abdullah Daar in Somalia. Mr. Shermake made history as the first African leader to peacefully handover power to a democratically-elected successor.

In 1991, Frederick Chiluba of the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy defeated incumbent Zambian president, Kenneth Kaunda, of the United National Independence Party UNIP. Mr. Kaunda had ruled the country since 1964.

In 1992, Pascal Lisouba of the Pan-African Union for Social Democracy defeated Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Congolese Party of Labour, in Republic of Congo

In 1991, Nicephore Soglo defeated incumbent Mathieu Kerekou in Benin Republic

In 1996, Mathieu Kerekou returned to beat Nicephore Soglo.

In 1994, opposition Elson Bakili Muluzi of the United Democratic Front, UDF, defeated Hastings Kamuzu Banda of Malawi’s Congress Party, MCP.


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In 2000, Abdoulaye Wade of the opposition Senegalese Democratic Party defeated incumbent Abdou Diouf of the Socialist Party of Senegal.

In 2000, Anerood Jugnouth of the Militant Socialist Movement of Mauritius defeated incumbent Navinchandra Ramgoolam of the Labour Party.

In 2000, Laurent Gbagbo defeated Robert Guei in Cote d’Ivoire.

In 2010 Alhassan Quattara defeated Laurent Gbagbo in Cote d’Ivoire.

In 2010, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud of the Peace, Unity and Development Party, PUDP, defeated Dahir Riyale Kahin of the United Peoples Democratic Party. UPDP, in Somaliland.

In 2011, opposition politician Michael Sata of the Patriotic Front vanquished Rupiah Banda of the MMD in Zambia.

In 2012, Macky Sall of the Alliance for the Republic routed Abdoulaye Wade of the Senegalese Democratic Party in Senegal.

In 2012, Hassan Sheik Mohamud of the Peace and Development Party beat Shariff Ahmed of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia

In 2014, Abdiweli Mohammed Ali of the Ururka Dadaka Puntland routed incumbent Abdirahman Mohamud Farole in Puntland. The incumbent lost the election by just one vote.

In 2014, Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party defeated President Joyce Banda in Malawi.

In 2015, Beji Caid Essebsi defeated interim leader of Tunisia, Moncef Marzouki.

In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari of the All Peoples Congress defeated Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party.

In 2016, Adama Barrow of the United Democratic Party defeated Yahya Jammeh of Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction.

In 2016, opposition candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party, NPP, defeated the incumbent president, John Mahama.


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