Some African heads of state have been in power for more than 30 years, and they all claim to be doing so because the citizens want them to… Is this true?
Many of these presidents, however, preside over political campaigns and elections marred by brutality and the arrest of opponents. Analysts describe their elections as lacking transparency.
Here are the Top 5 Africa’s longest-serving Presidents, some of whom have changed the constitution, crushed the opposition, and used fear and violence to keep power.
The Top 5 Longest Serving African Presidents still in power 2022
5: Isaias Afwerki – 28 years
Isaias Afwerki has been the President of Eritrea since 1993. He led the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) to victory in May 1991, bringing an end to a 30-year-long war for independence from Ethiopia. He served as Secretary-General of Eritrea’s Provisional Government from 9 June 1991 to 24 May 1993, when he became President of Eritrea following a United Nations-supervised referendum on independence.
Isaias has ruled Eritrea for 28 years as the chairperson of Eritrea’s sole legal political party, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice.
The United Nations and Amnesty International have both accused him of totalitarianism and cited him for human rights violations. Reporters Without Borders ranked Eritrea, under the government of Isaias, last out of 180 countries in its Press Freedom Index last year in 2021.
The national assembly elected Isaias Afewerki as Eritrea’s president in 1993. He has been the de facto leader since before independence, with no legal challenge to his rule. Presidential elections were scheduled for 1997, but they were never held.
A United Nations panel accused Isaias of leading a totalitarian government responsible for systematic human rights violations in Eritrea that may amount to crimes against humanity . Amnesty International believes that President Isaias Afwerki’s government has imprisoned at least 10,000 political prisoners. Amnesty also claims that torture is widely used for punishment, interrogation, and coercion.
4: Yoweri Museveni – 36 years
More than three-quarters of Ugandans under the age of 35 have only known one president.
President Yoweri Museveni has ruled Uganda since capturing power in 1986, Museveni has managed to hang on to power by oppressing the opposition and manipulating the constitution. Parliament has changed the constitution twice to allow him to run, first removing a two-term limit in 2005 and then abolishing the 75-year-old age limit in 2017.
When addressing the issue of stepping down during the last election five years ago, he asked, “How can I go out of a banana plantation I planted that has started bearing fruits?”
The harvest is still not over for this revolutionary.
Human Rights Watch reported that Uganda’s recently concluded elections were characterized by widespread violence and human rights abuses, The abuses included killings by security forces, arrests and beatings of opposition supporters and journalists, disruption of opposition rallies, and a shutdown of the internet.
Museveni has also used nepotism to ensure that his proxies are placed in strategic positions so that he can have unwavering loyalty from them. His proxies are the country’s key decision-makers, and no one in his ranks opposes his policies. He was able to mortgage his country’s resources with these guys, and they make sure he stays as long as he can because they are afraid that if another leader comes, they will no longer be able to steal from their people.
3: Dennis Sassou – 37 years
Dennis is Congo republic president. He has been in office for a total of 37 years. He first served from 1979 to 1992 before returning in 1997, following the end of a civil war.
Sassou was re-elected last year.
Telecommunications were cut off at the national level during election day, emulating events from the 2016 elections, a situation condemned by international organizations such as the African Union. On the afternoon of the election, Guy Brice Parfait Kolélas, the opposition presidential candidate, died from COVID-19 on a plane route to France for treatment. With 88.4 percent of the vote, Sassou Ngessou was re-elected.
2: Paul Biya – 39 years
From 1968 to 1975, Biya was Secretary-General of the Presidency, and from 1975 to 1982, he was Prime Minister of Cameroon. After President Ahmadou Ahidjo’s resignation due to health issues in 1982, he took over as president
Since November 6, 1982, Paul Biya has been the president of Cameroon. He is Africa’s second-longest-serving president and the continent’s oldest head of state.
To consolidate control, he in a staged coup attempt in 1983–1984 that saw him eliminate all of his rivals.
When Riots erupted in February 2008, calling for lower prices and the resignation of Paul Biya. The demonstrators were harshly repressed, with reports of a hundred people killed and thousands arrested.
In the same year, he pushed hard the national assembly to pass a constitutional amendment removing the two-term presidential limit, allowing him to rule beyond 2011.
To maintain power, Biya has used elections to legitimize himself and actually gain international support – or, at the very least, to ensure that the rest of the world tolerates him. The elections, however, have been marred by violence and low voter turnout.
1: Teodoro Obiang Nguema – 42 years
Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the president of Equatorial Guinea, is currently the world’s longest serving president. He has been president for 42 years. Obiang ascended to power in 1979. Obiang, who is now 78 years old, seized power from his uncle in a coup.
When opposition parties were made legal in 1992, Obiang’s Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea dominated.
He has won more than 90% of the votes in every election, including some that the opposition has boycotted. He has been widely accused of widespread human rights violations, corruption, and power abuse. Obiang’s government is effectively a legal dictatorship under the terms of the constitution, which grants him broad powers, including the right to rule by decree. Obiang has appointed family members to high-level government positions. His Son being
second in command and Vice President since 2012.
Obiang Nguema employed a variety of tactics to keep his grip on power for so long. He made certain that the country’s opposition parties were suppressed, and he built a strong man nation rather than a strong institutionalized country. Because of his dominance over the opposition, he benefited greatly from the nation’s wealth.
Even when a country is wealthy and has a small population, the vast majority of its citizens live in poverty because its leadership is not transparent to them. They were subjected to a type of leadership in which the president stifles freedom of expression