When it comes to investing in foreign countries, political instability is considered one of the leading indicators of risk. Some of the following leaders were democratically elected. Others took power in coups, only to die in subsequent coups. Dozens of countries across the globe have presidential assassinations in their histories. Countries of the African continent are no exception. The following are 12 African countries with leaders who were assassinated, sometimes plunging the countries into civil wars.

Thomas Sankara, Burkina Faso (1987)

Thomas Sankara seized power in a popular coup in 1983 in an attempt to break the country’s ties to its French colonial power. He gave the country its new name — Burkina Faso, formerly Upper Volta. Sankara had an ambitious agenda to eliminate corruption and encourage economic and social progress, but this resulted in an increasingly authoritarian approach to power. Though he remained an icon to the poor, his policies aggravated the middle class, as well as traditional tribal leaders. He was overthrown and assassinated in a coup led by the French-backed Blaise Compaoré in October 1987.

Melchior Ndadaye, Burundi (1993)

Melchior Ndadaye was the first democratically elected president of Burundi, as well as the country’s first Hutu leader. He was assassinated just three months after taking office. His attempts to reform the country and calm ethnic tensions just aggravated the Tutsi-dominated army, and he was assassinated in a failed military coup attempt in October 1993. His death was the catalyst that begun the Burundi Civil War between Hutus and Tutsis, which continued for the following decade.

François Tombalbaye, Chad (1975)

François Tombalbaye served as the first president of Chad from 1960, appointed after the country’s independence from France. Tombalbaye received his post as a result of his party being appointed by the colonial government, and was an unpopular leader with dictatorial tendencies. In 1975, he was assassinated by members of the Chadian military in the midst of a continent-wide drought and growing tensions among the country’s people.

Laurent Kabila, Democratic Republic of Congo (2001)

Laurent Kabila took power in the DRC in 1997 after overthrowing Mobutu Sese Seko and served for four years before being shot in January 2001 by one of his bodyguards. According to some DRC officials, the assassination was masterminded by Rwanda, though 11 Lebanese nationals were executed shortly after the event. Kabila’s party managed to retain power, and Laurent’s son, Joseph Kabila, succeeded his father eight days later.

Samuel Doe, Liberia (1990)

Doe became the 21st president of Liberia in 1980, serving as the first indigenous head of state in the country’s history. In 1989, the Liberian Civil War broke out after rebels, led by former ally Charles Taylor, entered the country through Côte d’Ivoire and captured Doe in a guerilla war. Doe was seized by faction leader Prince Y. Johnson after a bloody gun battle at the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group’s peacekeeping headquarters in Monrovia. Doe was tortured before being executed. Taylor assumed the presidency and held onto power until 2003.

Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara, Niger (1999)

Col. Maïnassara seized power in Niger in 1996 in a coup d’état during parliamentary conflict that paralyzed the government between then-President Mahamane Ousmane and opposition leader and Prime Minister Hama Amadou. Maïnassara held onto power for several years before he was ambushed and shot by Nigerien soldiers at the airport in the country’s capital city. The presidential guard alleged that Maïnassara was attempting to flee the country. His death was officially described as an “unfortunate accident.” Daouda Malam Wanké, the leader of the coup, succeeded him as head of state.

Murtala Ramat Mohammed, Nigeria (1976)

Gen. Mohammed was made head of state following the overthrow of Gen. Gowon in July 1975. In February of the following year, however, Mohammed was killed when his car was ambushed by forces led by Lt. Col. Buka Suka Dimka, along with his aide-de-camp, Lt. Akintunde Akinsehinwa. Mohammed was succeeded by his Chief of Staff, Olusegun Obasanjo, who completed the government’s plan for the “orderly transfer of power to civilian rule” in 1979.

Abdirashid Ali Shermarke, Somalia (1969)

In the year before his assassination, Shermarke barely escaped an attempt on his life when a grenade exploded near his car while he was traveling back from the airport. The next year, one of his own bodyguards shot Shermarke while he was paying an official visit to northern town Las Anod. Official reports suggested the assassination was personal and not politically motivated, but Shermarke’s death was quickly followed by a bloodless military coup spearheaded by Maj. Gen. Muhammad Siad Barre.

Sylvanus Olympio, Togo (1963)

Olympio became the first president of Togo in 1960 following the country’s independence in 1958. In January 1963, members of the Togolese military broke into the presidential house and killed Olympio in the first coup in former French and British colonies in Africa that had achieved independence. Olympio’s body was discovered by then-U.S. Ambassador Leon B. Poullada several feet from the door to the U.S. Embassy. Étienne Eyadéma claimed to have fired the shot that killed Olympio. The military established a new government headed by Nicolas Grunitzky immediately following Olympio’s assassination. Eyadéma later siezed power in 1967.

Ahmed Abdallah, Comoros (1989)

Abdallah became the first president of the newly independent Comoros islands in July 1975, but was overthrown after just one month in power in a coup led by Said Mohamed Jaffar. Jaffar, in turn, was overthrown the following year by Ali Soilih, and Abdallah went to live in exile in Paris, France. In 1978, Abdallah returned and staged a coup against Soilih, and assumed the title of president in October of that year. He was re-elected unopposed in 1984, and held office until he was shot dead in his office in November 1989 by the half-brother of Soilih, Said Mohamed Djohar. Djohar assumed power following the assassination.

Marien Ngouabi, Republic of Congo (1977)

As head of the National Revolutionary Council, Marien Ngouabi came to power when his party became the country’s supreme authority in December 1968. He established the continent’s first Marxist-Leninist state, and founded the Congolese Workers’ Party as the sole legal political party. In March 1977, he was assassinated in a suicide mission, and an interim government was established headed by conservative Col. Joachim Yhombi-Opango.

Richard Ratsimandrava, Madagascar (1975)

Col. Richard Ratsimandrava took power in February 1975 after ousting then-President Gabriel Ramanantsoa with the help of the military government. Just six days after taking office, he was assassinated by members of the Republican Security Forces in a counterinsurgency effort. The assassination plunging Madagascar into civil war between supporters of the military government and those of Philibert Tsiranana, former civilian leader of the independence government.

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