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Top 10 longest-serving leaders in Africa

Moi responded to wild criticism that African leaders were determined rule forever.

Feb 8th · 2 min read

While announcing a surprise move in 2002 to step down from power, Kenya's fallen President Daniel Moi spoke of how many Kenyans thought he would rule till death.

The country's second president responded to wild criticism and perceptions that African leaders were determined to cling to power and rule forever.

As Moi breathed his last on Tuesday, the continent is home to more than half of the top 20 longest-serving political leaders in the world. 

Equatorial Guinea – Obiang Teodoro

Obiang, 77, has been President of Equatorial Guinea since 1979 (40 years).

Obiang Teodoro came into power after he ousted his uncle Francisco Macías Nguema in an August 1979 military coup. He is currently the longest-serving president in Africa. 

Cameroonian President Paul Biya

Cameroonian President Paul Biya, 86, who is now serving his seventh consecutive term, is the second longest-serving leader in Africa with nearly 37 years in office. He succeeded Ahidjo upon the latter’s surprise resignation in 1982.

Congo-Brazzaville President Denis Nguese

Congo-Brazzaville President Denis Sassou Nguess has ruled for 35 years. He first served from 1979 to 1992 and returned in 1997 at the end of a civil war.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni 

Yoweri Museveni has been the president of Uganda since 1986 (34 years). He took over power from Idi Amin Dada. 

King Mswati III

King King Mswati III took over power in 1986 as Eswatini king, formerly known as Swaziland. He has served the largest monarch in the continent for 33 years. 

Ex Sudan leader Omar al-Basir

Omar al-Bashir ruled for 40 years before he was toppled in 2019. He came to power in 1989 after he led a military coup.

Chad leader Idriss Deby

Chad’s Idriss Deby has ruled for 29 years. He took power at the head of a rebellion against President Hissène Habré in December 1990. 

Eritrea President Isaias Afwerki

Isaias Afwerki is the first President of Eritrea. The Eritrean leader has been in charge since Independence in April 1993. He has ruled for 27 years. 

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika 

Bouteflika has been the fifth President of Algeria since 1999. Bouteflika has been ruling the country from a wheelchair.

Djibouti President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh

Ismail Omar Guelleh is the second President of Djibouti since 1999. Guelleh was re-elected in 2005, 2011 and again in 2016.

Other long-serving leaders: 

Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie is Africa's longest-serving leader of a monarch. Following a record of 44 years in power, Selassie was toppled in 1974.

Former Libya leader Mohamed Ghadafi ruled for nearly 42 years until he was killed in 2011 after an uprising turned into a deadly armed conflict.

Omar Bongo died in June 2009 after more than 41 years in power as Gabon leader.

Angola’s Jose Eduardo dos Santos stepped down in September 2017, after being at the helm of his country for 38 years.

Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo ruled for 38 years from 1967 to his death in 2005.

The late Robert Mugabe was ousted from power in November 2017 after ruling Zimbabwe for 37 years. 

last updated: 2020-02-08@02:02