African countries are noted for elected monarchs who have stayed in power for so long that their names have become synonymous to their countries. While some might argue they are pillars of pan Africanism and guardians of Africa, political science student Abel Njume says, “These Presidents are nothing but, uncivilized power mongers who have decided to cling to power for their own personal satisfaction,” he adds that development and change can only come with fresh ideas and new blood into the system. Some of these African presidents have seen the reign of more than four American Presidents and with their constant manipulation of the Constitution they are likely to be in power when US President Elect Trump's term in office comes an end.
11. Paula Kagame
After defeating the Rwandan National Army to end the Genocide in 1994, under his RPF rebels, Paul Kagame was the de facto leader of Rwanda. He appointed Pasteur Bizimungu as president and was Vice President and commander in chief of Armed Forces. Following Pasteur Bizimungu’s resignation in the year 2000, government ministers and the National Assembly elected Paul Kagame as President of Rwanda. Paul Kagame has been in power for the past 16 years and said he will run for the third term that will potentially see him in power until 2034.
10. Denis Sassou Nguesso
President Nguesso returned to power at the end of the 1997 civil war where his forces ousted the first democratically elected President of the Republic of the Congo, Pascal Lissouba. Upon assuming power, he formed a government of National Unity and he remains the President of the Republic of Congo till date. Prior to this era, President Nguesso had ruled the Republic of the Congo between 1979-1992 as head of the single-party regime of the Congolese Party of Labour (PCT). President Nguesso has been in power for the past 19 years.
9. Yahya Jammeh
At 29 Jammeh, who was chairman of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC), became the leader of Gambia. The AFPRC, a group of young Gambian army officers, seized power from President Sir Dawda Jawara in a military coup. After forming his political party in 1996, Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction, he was elected the President of Gambia in September 1996 and has remained President of Gambia. Although applauded by some on his stand against homosexuality and his claims of healing through herbs, these are no reasons for him to be in office for the last 22 years.
8. Isaias Afewerki
Isaias Afewerki has been the president of Eritrea since the country gained independence in 1993. He had been the de facto leader before independence was expected to implement reforms that would place the country on a democratic path, instead, his government has been marked for dictatorial rule; Human right abuses, massive starvation have been characteristic during his reign. One of the most alarming effects of his reign is the migration of thousands of Eritreans seeking for better life and hope in different African countries. President Isaias Afewerki has been in power for the last 23 years and there is no sign of him stepping down soon.
7. Idriss Deby
Idriss Deby came to power in the 1990 military coup, after ousting the very man he had helped bring to power after his troops marched into the capital, N’Djaména, unopposed. There have been several attempts to topple Idrissa Deby as the leader of Chad but such efforts remain unsuccessful as reports claim that the French-backed Deby has used Chad's oil proceeds to built one of the strongest military in Africa. Political analysts argue that his reign is due to lack of strong political oppositions while critics and oppositions of his government are at risk of the inevitable. Idrissa Deby has been in power for the last 26 years, and one can only wonder if any of the attempts to topple him will succeed.
6. Brigadier Omar al-Bashir
In 1989, Brigadier Omar al-Bashir led a bloodless military coup which toppled the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahd as the country faced nationwide famine. He has since been President of Sudan. Although he won the elections back-to-back in 2010 and 2015, there have been reports suggesting the elections were marred with irregularities. In 2009, Omar al-Bashir became Africa’s first sitting president to be indicted by the ICC for directing mass killings, rape and torture in Darfur. President Bashir has been the commander in chief of Sudan for the last 27 years.
5. Yoweri Museveni
President Yoweri Museveni has been President of Uganda since 29 January 1986 after ousting Ugandan leaders Idi Amin and Milton Obote. Although his government has been credited for the best anti-HIV campaigns in Africa, and a new infrastructure drive to further boost the economy of Uganda, opposition has cried foul to his hold on power and have constantly disputed elections and pointed at the corruption of his government and high cost of leaving in the country. In 2005 a referendum and constitution change was done scraping limits on Presidential terms to enable the extension of his rule. Having stayed in power for 30 years, President Museveni can be ranked amongst the elected monarchs of Africa.
4. Paul Biya
Cameroon's first post-independence leader, Ahmadou Ahidjo, resigned and handed the presidency to his Prime Minister, Paul Biya with respect to the constitution, after which he was sworn as President of Cameroon on 4th November 1982. His regime has been noted for corruption and dictatorship as well as poor governance. Although he tried to resist the creation of multi-party system in the 90’s, it was inevitable as one of the strongest opposition parties; the Social Democratic Front was born. Paul Biya, has been described as running government finances “like a petty cash fund”, booking himself and his entourage a 1.2 million dollar three week holiday by chartered jet to the French resort of La Baule. Reports say they took 43 rooms in two luxury hotels costing 60,000 dollars a night, went on shopping sprees and splashed cash on casino nights. All these is despite that some rural areas in Cameroon can barely boast accessibility to basic healthcare, roads or utilities. President Biya has continuously changed the constitution to ensure his grip to power. He has been the President of Cameroon for the past 34 years.
3. Robert Mugabe
The world cheered when, after leading a long guerrilla war, Robert Mugabe led his ZANU party to victory at the elections in February 1980, after Zimbabwe had won its independence from Britain. Mugabe was elected as Prime Minister, head of government, in 1980 and became the country’s first executive head of state in 1987. Despite recording economic growth in the past, Mugabe, now in his nineties and his government are a thing of the past. Zimbabwe is now one of the poorest countries in the world, and definitely no longer a global favorite. The opposition has accused Mugabe of destroying his country in a bid to stay in power. The Mugabe administration has been criticized around the world for corruption, suppression of political opposition, mishandling of land reform, economic mismanagement, and the deteriorating human rights situation. Although sharing power, he remains president of Zimbabwe and has been for 36 years.
2. José Eduardo dos Santos
José Eduardo dos Santos became President of Angola in 1979, after the death of Angola’s first president, Agostinho Neto, on 10 September 1979. Dos Santos regime is regarded as one of the most corrupt governments in Africa. About 70% of the citizens of Angola live on less than $2 a day and yet the family wealth according to Cabinda.net is in the order of billions of Dollars. His daughter Isabel dos Santos has been ranked by Forbes as Africa’s richest woman and also the world’s richest black woman. President José Eduardo dos Santos has been in power for the last 37 years.
1. Teodoro Obiang
In the same category as his belligerent, Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang has been in power since August 3, 1979. He overthrew his uncle Francisco Macías Nguema in a bloody coup in August 1979, tried and executed him for crimes which included genocide. Despite its new-found oil wealth, 60% of the people of Equatorial Guinea live on less than a dollar a day. But they clearly all love President Nguema, or have no option but to love him as 37 years on he is still their only democratic elected leader.
Who Are the Longest Serving African Presidents? We have them here!
|Rank||Name||Country||Years in Power|
|1||Teodoro Obiang||Equatorial Guinea||37|
|2||José Eduardo dos Santos||Angola||37|
|6||Brigadier Omar al-Bashir||Sudan||27|
|9||Yahya Jammeh||The Gambia||22|
|10||Denis Sassou Nguesso||Republic of the Congo||19|
Header Image Credit: Alleyesonafrica