Four other African ‘Presidents’ who swore themselves into office
In the aftermath of Tuesday’s ‘swearing in’ of Raila Odinga as the people’s ‘president’ at Uhuru Park in Nairobi, the Nasa leader joined a select group of African leaders who declared themselves President while their countries had a sitting Head of State.
But who are the others and what happened to them?
1. Kiiza Besigye – After losing to President Yoweri Museveni for the fourth consecutive time in the February 2016 elections, Uganda’s vocal and confrontational opposition leader secretly swore himself at an unknown location a day before the official swearing-in ceremony of President Museveni.
It didn’t end well for 60 year old medical doctor, who is a former confidante of the President Museveni, as he was promptly arrested and detained before being hauled before court on treason charges.
He is currently out on bond but continues battling the charges.
2. Ettiene Tshisekedi – Considered the main Congolese opposition leader for decades, Tshisekedi declared himself the “elected president” of the Democratic Republic of Congo when he lost in the 2011 elections to incumbent Joseph Kabila.
Tshisekedi, who was 79 year old at the time, had come second on the official polls tally defied a police ban on his ‘inauguration’ which had been planned for a football stadium in the capital.
He was later placed under house arrest before he died on February 1, 2017 in Brussels, Belgium while undergoing treatment.
3. Mashood Abiola – The wealthy businessman and politician was the presidential election of June 12, 1993 by overwhelmingly trouncing his main rival Bashir Tofa.
However, then military ruler, Ibrahim Babangida, annulled the election results and called for fresh polls, leading to a political crisis which paved way for General Sani Abacha to seize power later that year.
In 1994 Abiola declared himself the lawful president of Nigeria in the Epetedo area of Lagos island. He was subsequently arrested and held in solitary confinement for four years.
During that period, Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and numerous human rights activists from all over the world unsuccessfully lobbied the Nigerian government for his release.
Abiola died on July 7, 1998 under suspicious circumstances shortly after the death of General Abacha on the day that he was due to be released.
4. Jean Ping – In 2016, Gabon’s opposition leader Jean Ping declared himself president and called for a recount of votes which confirmed the incumbent President Ali Bongo had won a bitterly contested election.
Ping maintained the whole world knew that ‘he was the President’ even as chaos broke through the capital Libreville and other cities, leading to the razing down of the Parliament.