David Dacko, the first president of the Central African Republic, died on Nov. 20. Cause of death was not released. He was 76.
Dacko studied at the Ecole Normale, Brazzaville, and worked as a teacher before he was elected to Parliament. He served as the country’s Minister of Agriculture, Stockbreeding, Water and Forests, the Minister of the Interior, Economy and Trade and as the Prime Minister.
The Central African Republic gained its independence from France in 1960. Although he was only 30 years old, Dacko became president, taking over the office when his uncle, President Barthelemy Boganda, was killed in an air crash.
Dacko led the country for six years before he was overthrown and jailed by his cousin, Jean-Bedel Bokassa, who proclaimed himself life president and emperor. Bokassa was deposed by French troops in 1979 and Dacko was reinstated as president. In 1981, Dacko was again forced out of office by his own military.
The Central African Republic has weathered nine coups and coup attempts since declaring its independence. The country is currently led by François Bozize, who seized power in 2003 when his rebels overran the capital of Bangui.