Holding On To Power: Africa’s Longest-Serving Leaders
After three decades in power, Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno died on Tuesday from wounds suffered on the battlefield, the army said in a shock announcement just a day after the 68-year-old was re-elected to a sixth term.
Here are some of Africa’s other longest-serving leaders, some of whom change the constitution, crush the opposition and use fear and violence to maintain their grip on power.
– More than 30 years –
Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema is Africa’s longest-serving leader, still in power after 41 years. He deposed his uncle in a 1979 coup, and became “the country’s god” with “all power over men and things”, state radio said.
Obiang, the world’s most enduring non-royal head of state, was last re-elected in 2016.
Cameroonian President Paul Biya has been in office for more than 38 years. He was re-elected in 2018 for a seventh term.
Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso has held power for a total of 36 years and was re-elected for a fourth term after elections on March 21.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, in power since 1986, was re-elected in January with his main rival Bobi Wine claiming the election was rigged.
In southern Africa’s tiny Eswatini, formerly Swaziland, King Mswati III is the continent’s last absolute monarch. He ascended the throne in 1986.
– Even longer –
Ethiopia’s late emperor Haile Selassie holds the record for the longest time in power on the African continent. After reigning for 44 years, he was ousted in 1974.
Libya’s Moamer Kadhafi, who ruled with an iron fist for nearly 42 years, was killed in 2011 after an armed rebellion that later turned into a civil war.
Omar Bongo Ondimba governed oil-rich Gabon for more than 41 years until his death from cancer in 2009.
Angola’s Jose Eduardo dos Santos stepped down in September 2017 having led his oil-rich country for 38 years.
Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe, who died in 2019, was in power for 37 years.