President Biya (Photo: VOA News)
Cameroon's President Has Spent 42 Years In Power - And Here's A List Of Africa's Longest Serving Presidents
Yesterday marked 35 years since Cameroon's President Paul Biya took office, and while his opponents are calling for him to stand aside when the country holds a presidential election next year, his supporters are marking the anniversary with celebrations and songs praising Biya for bringing peace and development to Cameroon, and emphasizing that at 84, Biya is still strong enough to lead and are urging him to be their candidate again in next year's presidential election.
Biya became president on November 6, 1982, after the resignation of the Central African state's first leader, Ahmadou Ahidjo, but he had served as Prime Minister from 1975 to 1982, technically ruling the country.
He has won five elections since then, and in 2008 he revised the 1996 constitution to remove term limits. He's also maintained a close relationship with France, Cameroon's former colonial master.
I mean, how dare people expect democratic transitions every now and then?
Biya is not the only lifetime president that Africa has. As at 2015, Africa had about 6
dictators leaders who had been ruling for more than 30 years each, and at that time they had a combine tenure of 201 years. Some are less, but what the hell are you doing ruling a democratic economy for more than 8 years?
Here's a comprehensive list of African presidents who will just not go away:
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea - 38 years
Since taking power in a coup in August 1979, he has ruled the Central African country for 38 years. He won the last election, as was widely expected, with a landslide to extend his mandate for a further seven years till the next elections in 2022 - in which he will contest again. He was also elected life president of the ruling party in July 2017.
Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe - 37 years
The 93-year-old won the country’s independence elections in April 1980 and has refused to leave power even though the country is suffering from an economic downturn after years of isolation by international lenders. 35 years and still counting, Zimbabwe goes to the polls in 2018 and Mugabe is expected to seek reelection, all things being equal.
Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo - 32 years
He was installed by the military in October 1979, had a five year period out of power between August 1992 and October 1997 and staged a comeback. In 2015, he introduced a referendum that allowed him to extend his stay in power, and he's the king of communication and internet blackouts.
With five years added to his 31 year rule when he won the election in 2016, Sassou will clock 36 years in power before the 2021 polls.
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Uganda - 31 years
He became president after his rebel group took power in January 1986 and for the past three decades he has been in charge of Uganda. He won the country’s very heated poll in 2016 to extend his 30 years for a further five years before the next elections in 2021.
Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola - 36 years
He is literally only the second president Angola has ever known. He assumed the presidency after the death of the country’s first president in September 1979, four years after Angola’s independence. He recently announced that after 36 years as President he will step down in 2017. His party has nominated a new candidate in polls expected to hold this year.
Paul Kagame of Rwanda - 23 years
In 1994, Paul Kagame and his RPF rebels defeated the Rwandan National Army in 1994 to end the Rwandan Genocide. Paul Kagame was elected by government ministers and the national assembly the president of Rwanda, a position he holds till today. even though Rwanda's Supreme Court tried to block that.
Kagame is arguable the only good long serving leader Africa has had.
Omar el Bashil of Sudan - 28 years
In 1989, Brigadier Omar al-Bashir led a bloodless military coup which toppled Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi and his government as the country faced nationwide famine. Since then, he has been elected three times in super dubious elections. In 2009 he became Africa’s first sitting president to be indicted by the ICC for directing mass killings, rape and torture in Darfur.
Idris Deby of Chad - 27 years
Idriss 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 President Habré.
27 years later, he's still there.
Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea - 26 years
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 (PFDJ) is the only party allowed to participate in the country’s politics. Mr Afewerki has been criticised for failing to implement democratic reforms. In response, his government clamped down on its critics and has closed the private press.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria - 18 years
He has been the fifth President of Algeria since 1999. As President, he presided over the end of the bloody Algerian Civil War in 2002, and he ended emergency rule in February 2011 amidst regional unrest. In November 2012, he surpassed Houari Boumediene as the longest-serving president of Algeria.
Ismaïl Omar Guelleh of Djibouti - 18 years
He is the current President of Djibouti, in office since 1999. He is often referred to in the region by his initials, IOG.
He was elected as President in 1999 as the handpicked successor to his uncle, Hassan Gouled Aptidon, who had ruled Djibouti since independence in 1977. Guelleh has been characterized as a dictator, and his rule has been criticized by some human rights groups.
There are others who have ruled for 10, 11, 12 years, but considering what qualifies as long serving in Africa, those seem pretty tame, but still...
By Olanrewaju Eweniyi, published on 07/11/2017