Old men, old office, old powers: Biya, Mbasogo, Museveni and others
It is true that Africa is the home to many of the world’s longest-ruling heads of state. According to Claire Felter, some postcolonial leaders in the 1960s and 1970s sought to become “president for life,” with several managing to remain in power for three or more terms. Yet today, by the dawn of 2021, it is still quite pathetic that the trend of enrooted leadership had propagated like the gospel of Jesus Christ across the region, instigating corruption, vice, debauchery, political unrest, economic instability, societal fractures, and many more.
Just 16 January 2021, the electoral commission of Uganda announced that Museveni won re-election for a sixth term with 58.6% of the vote. For the umpteenth time, promoting long rulership in Africa is still actively surviving, while mending this, we still expect, more compelling leadership in Africa. Wherein, this piece shall take a look at the Oldest and longest actively serving Presidents in Africa.
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo – Equatorial Guinea
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is the 2nd president of Equatorial Guinea since August 1979. He ousted his uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema in a military coup that took place in August 1979 and has overseen Equatorial Guinea’s emergence as an important oil producer, beginning in the 1990s. Nguema Mbasogo is the second-longest consecutively serving current non-royal national leader in the world.
According to The Economist, the Equatorial Guinea leader has been widely accused of corruption and abuse of power. In marked contrast to the trend toward democracy in most of Africa, Equatorial Guinea is currently a dominant-party state, in which Obiang’s Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) holds virtually all governing power in the nation.
The constitution provides the 77-year-old Obiang sweeping powers, including the right to rule by decree, effectively making his government a legal dictatorship. Yet more, according to US News, He has held onto power ever since, relying on the repression of political opponents and revenues from the country’s offshore oil reserves.
Paul Barthélemy Biya’a bi Mvondo – Cameroon
Paul Barthélemy Biya’a bi Mvondo also known as Paul Biya has been the Cameroonian president since 6 November 1982. According to Emvana, Michel Roger, He rose rapidly as a bureaucrat under President Ahmadou Ahidjo in the 1960s, serving as Secretary-General of the Presidency from 1968 to 1975 and then as Prime Minister of Cameroon from 1975 to 1982.
He succeeded Ahidjo as president upon the latter’s surprise resignation in 1982 and consolidated power in 1983–1984 staged attempted coup in which he eliminated all his rivals. Notes from www.cameroonvoice.com say that Biya introduced political reforms within the context of a one-party system in the 1980s. Under serious pressure, he accepted the introduction of multiparty politics in the early 1990s.
He won the contentious 1992 presidential election with 40% of the plural, single-ballot vote and was re-elected by large margins in 1997, 2004, 2011 and 2018. Opposition politicians and Western governments have alleged voting irregularities and fraud on each of these occasions. Many independent sources have provided evidence that he did not win the elections in 1992 and that subsequent elections were rampant with fraud. The 87-year-old is today the second-longest-ruling president in Africa (after Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea ), the longest-ruling non-royal leader in the world, and the oldest head-of-state in Africa.
Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Kaguta Museveni – Uganda
Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Kaguta Museveni has been serving as the President of Uganda since 1986. Museveni was involved in rebellions that toppled Ugandan leaders Idi Amin (1971–79) and Milton Obote (1980–85) before he captured power in the 1980s. According to US News, Museveni, 75, declared himself president in January 1986 when he seized Kampala after a five-year guerrilla struggle. The ruling party endorsed him as its candidate in the 2021 election after he scrapped a 75-year age limit that would have barred him from standing again.
Obviously, Museveni’s presidency has been marred by involvement in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other Great Lakes region conflicts; the rebellion in Northern Uganda by the Lord’s Resistance Army, which caused a humanitarian emergency; and the suppression of political opposition and constitutional amendments scrapping presidential term limits (2005) and the presidential age limit (2017). On 16th January 2021, the electoral commission of Uganda announced that Museveni won re-election for a sixth term with 58.6% of the vote.
Denis Sassou Nguesso – Congo
Denis Sassou Nguesso has been President of the Republic of the Congo since 1997. He was previously president from 1979 to 1992. During his first period as president, he headed the single-party régime of the Congolese Party of Labour (PCT) for 12 years. Research showed that under pressure from international sources, he introduced multiparty politics in 1990 and was then stripped of executive powers by the 1991 National Conference, remaining in office as a ceremonial head of state.
According to the Reuters, he stood as a candidate in the 1992 presidential election but was defeated, placing third. According to the Reuters, Sassou Nguesso was an opposition leader for five years before returning to power during the Second Civil War (1997–1999), in which his rebel forces ousted President Pascal Lissouba.
Following a transitional period, The 76-year-old won the 2002 presidential election, which involved low opposition participation; he was re-elected in the 2009 presidential election. The introduction of a new constitution, passed by referendum in 2015, enabled Sassou Nguesso to stand for another term. He was re-elected in the 2016 presidential election with a majority in the first round.
Idriss Déby – Chad
Idriss Déby Itno has been the President of Chad since 1990. He took power at the head of a rebellion against President Hissène Habré in December 1990 and has since survived various rebellions and coup attempts against his own rule. He won elections in 1996 and 2001, and after term limits were eliminated he won again in 2006, 2011, and 2016. According to Douglas Farah, he added “Itno” to his surname in January 2006.
He is a graduate of Muammar Gaddafi’s World Revolutionary Center and has been described as authoritarian by several international media sources. Since the 67-year-old man took power at the head of an armed rebellion, he has since abolished presidential term limits in 2005 before reimposing a two-term limit in 2018. It will not be applied retroactively, however, meaning he could serve two terms after the next election in 2021.
Isaias Afwerki – Eritrea
Isaias Afwerki has been the first and current president of Eritrea, a position he has held since after the Eritrean War of Independence in 1993. He led the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) to victory in May 1991, ending the 30-year-old war for independence. He has been cited for human rights violations by the United Nations and Amnesty International.
In 2015, Reporters Without Borders ranked Eritrea under the government of Afwerki last in its Press Freedom Index for the eighth year running. Afwerki, 74, since his rule since it gained independence from Ethiopia. There have never been national elections in Eritrea, which rights groups consider one of the most repressive states in the world.
Ismaïl Omar Guelleh – Djibouti
Ismaïl Omar Guelleh has been the current president of Djibouti since 1999. According to CBS News, Guelleh was first elected as President in 1999 as the handpicked successor to his uncle, Hassan Gouled Aptidon who had ruled Djibouti since independence in 1977. Guelleh was re-elected in 2005, 2011 and again in 2016; the 2011 election was largely boycotted by the opposition amid complaints about widespread irregularities.
Guelleh has been characterized as a dictator, and his rule has been criticized by some human rights groups. Guelleh, 72, was handpicked to succeed his uncle, independence leader Hassan Gouled Aptidon. He was elected to a fourth five-year term in 2016.
Paul Kagame – Rwanda
Very Tall Paul Kagame is the 6th and current president of Rwanda, having taken office in 2000. Kagame previously commanded the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), an Uganda-based rebel force which invaded Rwanda in 1990 and was one of the parties of the conflict during the Rwandan Civil War and the Rwandan genocide.
He was considered Rwanda’s de facto leader when he served as Vice President and Minister of Defence under President Pasteur Bizimungu from 1994 to 2000. Kagame, 62, was widely seen as the real power in Rwanda after leading the rebel army that ended the 1994 genocide. He was formally elected president by the national assembly in 2000 and changed the constitution in 2015 to extend term limits, a move that could let him stay in power until 2034.
Culled from Qwenu.com