African countries have had their fair share of long-serving leaders but, if the past decade is anything to go by, this trend is about to come to a crashing halt.
In what has now come to be referred to as ‘Africa Rising,’ the continent is slowly awakening and realizing that they can do – and deserve – better.
It all started in January 2012 with the ouster of former Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade following a 12-year rule.
Wade, now 93 years of age, had been president since 2000. His rule, however, drew criticism from the opposition who accused him of breaching rules for candidacy in an election.
Then came former Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore whose 27-year-rule came to an end in 2014 following violent protests.
Afterwards, one of Africa’s most controversial and longest serving leaders — Robert Mugabe — on November 21, 2017, bowed to the pressure of a military takeover and the humiliation of impeachment.
It was the culmination of an extraordinary week in the history of Zimbabwe that began when the country’s military leaders staged an unprecedented intervention to prevent the ascent to power of Mugabe’s 52-year-old wife, Grace.
Only recently – on April 2, 2019 — Algeria’s ailing former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned, succumbing to six weeks of largely peaceful mass protests driven by youth and pressure from the powerful army against his 20-year rule.
Then on Thursday April 11, 2019, President Omar al-Bashir’s grip on Sudan came tumbling after he was visited by the heads of his four main security apparatuses who told him “there was no alternative” but for him to step down.
Bashir’s exit brings the ouster of long-serving African presidents to 5.
Here are the remaining ones whom, if this trend continues, should be scared out of their wits:
Cameroon President Paul Biya
Biya,86, is widely considered the longest serving leader in Africa and has been President of Cameroon since November 6, 1982.
He rose rapidly as under former President Ahmadou Ahidjo, 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 a 1983–1984 staged attempted coup during which he, according to Wikipedia, “eliminated all his rivals.”
Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
Obiang ousted his uncle, Francisco Macías Nguema, in an August 1979 military coup and has led Equatorial Guinea ever since.
His rule was at first considered more humane than that of his uncle but he has since been accused of becoming increasingly brutal.
Congo-Brazzaville President Denis Sassou Nguesso
President Nguesso has spent 34 years in office, having first served from 1979 to 1992 before returning in 1997 at the end of a civil war. He was then re-elected in March 2016.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni
Museveni was involved in rebellions that toppled notorious Ugandan leaders Idi Amin (1971–79) and Milton Obote (1980–85) before capturing power in the 1986.
His rule has, over the past recent years, come under heavy scrutiny with Ugandan musician-turned-politician Bobi Wine saying he will challenge Museveni for the top seat in the 2021 elections.
Chadian President Idriss Deby
President Deby took over the mantle of power in in 1990. He continues to rule to date after winning a disputed fifth term in April 2016, giving him nearly 29 years in power.
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki
Afwerki is the first President of Eritrea, a position he has held since its independence in 1993. He has, as of date, ruled for 26 years.
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