Between them, these 5 Africa’s longest serving leaders have held onto power for 193 years and show no signs of stepping down anytime soon. In many countries around the world, there is a tradition of regular turnover in political leadership. However, Africa has a long history of authoritarian rule, and many of the continent’s leaders have been in power for decades.
Here is a list of the current longest-serving leaders in Africa:
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (Equatorial Guinea): 43 years
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea has been in power since 1979, making him the longest-serving African president. In the early years of his rule, President Obiang was known for being a brutal dictator. He oversaw a government responsible for the torture and killings of political opponents.
In the 1990s, he loosened his grip on the country and allowed multiparty elections. However, he has remained in power ever since.
In 2022, at the age of 80, he won for a sixth term in office that will see him lasting another seven years.
Paul Biya (Cameroon): 40 years
President Biya came to power in 1982 in a coup d’état and has ruled the country ever since. The 89-year-old runs the country through a very small circle of aides, whom he appoints and banishes as he sees fit. Openly talking about succession is taboo even for his closest supporters, and Biya has overseen a ruthless crackdown on dissent since his highly contested re-election in 2018.
Denis Sassou Nguesso (Republic of the Congo): 39 years
Denis Sassou Nguesso, 79, has been in power for 39 years, albeit not uninterruptedly. He was president from 1979 to 1992, then returned to office in 1997 after a civil war. He was re-elected in 2016 after the passing of a new constitution, then won a fourth mandate on March 21 last year.
Yoweri Museveni (Uganda): 36 years
Yoweri Museveni has been the president of Uganda for 36 years since January 1986. He was re-elected in January 2021 for a sixth term after a hotly contested campaign against musician, Bobi Wine.
Under Museveni’s rule, Uganda has become one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. The country has also made strides in reducing poverty and improving healthcare and education. However, critics say Museveni has become increasingly authoritarian over the years, stifling dissent and curtailing civil liberties.
In recent years, there have been calls for term limits in Uganda, but Museveni has resisted these efforts. In 2017, he amended the constitution to remove the president’s age limit, effectively allowing him to stay in power for life.
King Mswati III (Kingdom of Eswatini): 36 years
Eswatini, Africa’s last remaining absolute monarchy, has been ruled by King Mswati III for 36 years. He ascended to the throne in April 1986 aged just 18.
The Impact of Long-Serving Leaders
The long tenures of Africa’s longest-serving leaders have had a number of significant impacts on their countries. One of the most notable impacts is the concentration of power. In many cases, these leaders have used their long tenures to consolidate power and weaken institutions, which has made it difficult to hold them accountable. This has led to a number of problems, including corruption, human rights abuses, and economic stagnation.
Another impact of long-serving leaders is the lack of political turnover. In many African countries, there has been little change in the leadership for decades. This has made it difficult for new ideas and perspectives to emerge, and it has led to a sense of complacency among the population.
Finally, the long tenures of Africa’s longest-serving leaders have also had an impact on the continent’s development. In some cases, these leaders have used their power to promote economic growth and development. However, in other cases, they have used their power to enrich themselves and their supporters, while neglecting the needs of the population.
The Future of Africa’s Longest-Serving Leaders
The future of Africa’s longest-serving leaders is uncertain. Some of them may continue to hold power for many years to come, while others may be forced to step down due to popular pressure or health problems. However, their long tenures have already had a profound impact on their countries, and their legacy will be debated for years to come.