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Africa’s top 10 longest-serving leaders

Nguema: Equatorial Guinea

After ousting his uncle, Masie Nguema Biyongo Ndong, in a violent 1979 coup Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo took over the leadership of Equatorial Guinea. He has been there since then ruling through repression and terror. Despite having oil, Equatorial Guinea’s people remain poor, while Nguema’s filthy rich.

Dos Santos: Angola

Dos Santos came in in 1979. After the death of Angola’s first president, Agostinho Neto, on September 10 1979, Dos Santos was elected as MPLA leader on September 20 1979, and he took office as President of Angola on September 21.

While 70% of Angola’s population live on less than US$1 a day, his daughter Isabel has, through her political connections, gone on to become one of the richest Africans and certainly the youngest billionaire.

Mugabe: Zimbabwe

While receiving intense criticism from the West, President Robert Mugabe also has support from some Africans for his outspoken defiance of Western control and influence. However, he has destroyed Zimbabwe through misrule one of Africa’s most promising countries — the second most industrialised nation in sub-Saharan African after South Africa in 1980 when he came in. Nyerere described it as the “jewell” in Africa’s crown

President R.G.Mugabe
President R.G.Mugabe

Biya: Cameroon

Prior to the commencement of his presidency in 1982, Biya served as Cameroon’s prime minister under Ahmadou Ahidjo.
He has held on to power through political reforms like a single-party system in the 80s (which he abolished under pressure in the 90s), high-margin election victories (consistently suspected as fraudulent).

Museveni: Uganda

Recently re-elected, Museveni has been at the helm of Uganda’s government since the toppling of Idi Amin and then Milton Obote in 1986. He has been in the limelight mostly for his government’s conservative stance on homosexuality, with draconian laws and severe punishment for “offenders”.

Al-Bashir: Sudan

In 1989, Brigadier Omar al-Bashir-led a bloodless military coup which toppled Sudan Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi and his government as the country faced nationwide famine. Since then, he has been elected four times in dubious elections, including last year. In 2009 he became Africa’s first sitting president to be indicted by the ICC for directing mass killings, rape and torture in Darfur.

Deby: Chad

Déby took over Chad’s presidency in 1990 after a rift formed between him and the then-president Hissene Habré. This rift resulted in Déby’s exile in Libya where he garnered support from both Libya and Sudan. He used this support to launch an attack against Habré. A year later, Déby’s troops marched into the capital, N’Djaména unopposed.

Afwerki: Eritrea

Since Eritrea’s independence in 1993, President Isaias Afwerki has held on to the top office. Eritrea is a one-party state. Afwerki’s People’s Front for Democracy and Justice is the only party allowed to participate in the country’s politics.

Afewerki has been criticised for failing to implement democratic reforms. His government has clamped down on its critics and has closed the private press.

Jammeh: Gambia

Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh is the President of the Gambia. As a young army officer, he took power in a 1994 military coup. He was elected as President in 1996; he was re-elected in 2001, 2006, and 2011.

Sassou Nguesso: Congo Brazaville

President Dennis Sassou Nguesso has had two tenures as head of state in the Republic of Congo. The first one was from 1979 to 1992 where he led the single-party regime of the Congolese Party of Labour. He returned to power at the end of the 1997 civil war where his forces ousted President Pascal Lissouba.

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