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Africa's Current Longest-Serving Leaders


FILE- Prince Makhosetive wears a feather headdress during his coronation ceremony to become King Mswati III of Swaziland. Prince Makhosetive wears a feather headdress during his coronation ceremony to become King Mswati III of Swaziland, April 26, 1986.

Many African leaders manage to cling to power for decades, either by force, breaking laws or bending constitutions. It's an established norm that has been practiced throughout the modern history of the continent.

Here is a snapshot of the current longest-serving African heads of state.

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (43 year rule) - Equatorial Guinea

FILE: Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo attends a plenary session of the Paris Peace Forum, France November 12, 2019.
FILE: Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo attends a plenary session of the Paris Peace Forum, France November 12, 2019.

Obiang, who came to power in an August 3, 1979 coup, is Africa's longest-serving leader, with 43 years at the helm. Next month, at the age of 80, he will run for a sixth term lasting seven years.

Paul Biya (40 year rule) - Cameroon

FILE - In this file photo taken on July 26, 2022 Cameroon's President Paul Biya waits for the arrival of France's President Emmanuel Macron (unseen) for talks at the Presidential Palace in Yaounde.
FILE - In this file photo taken on July 26, 2022 Cameroon's President Paul Biya waits for the arrival of France's President Emmanuel Macron (unseen) for talks at the Presidential Palace in Yaounde.

Cameroon has lived through 40 years of largely unchallenged and hardline rule under Biya. The 89-year-old runs the country through a very small circle of aides, whom he appoints and banishes as he sees fit. Openly talking about succession is taboo even for his closest supporters, and Biya has overseen a ruthless crackdown on dissent since his highly contested re-election in 2018.

Denis Sassou Nguesso (38 year rule) - Republic of the Congo

FILE - In this handout photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Republic of the Congo's President Denis Sassou Nguesso listens to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during their talks in Brazzaville, Congo, Monday, July 25, 2022.
FILE - In this handout photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Republic of the Congo's President Denis Sassou Nguesso listens to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during their talks in Brazzaville, Congo, Monday, July 25, 2022.

Denis Sassou Nguesso, 78, has been in power for 38 years, albeit not uninterruptedly. He was president from 1979 to 1992, then returned to office in 1997 after a civil war. He was re-elected in 2016 after the passing of a new constitution, then won a fourth mandate on March 21 this year.

Yoweri Museveni (36 year rule) - Uganda

FILE: Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni speaks during a Reuters interview at his farm in Kisozi settlement of Gomba district, in the Central Region of Uganda, January 16, 2022.
FILE: Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni speaks during a Reuters interview at his farm in Kisozi settlement of Gomba district, in the Central Region of Uganda, January 16, 2022.

In Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, 78, has led his country for 36 years since January 1986. He was re-elected in January 2021 for a sixth term after a contested campaign.

A Supreme Court ruling to abolish an age ceiling of 75 allowed him to stand once again and continue serving.

King Mswati III (36 year rule) - Kingdom of Eswatini

FILE - In this Monday Sept. 3, 2012 file photo Eswatini's King, Mswati III, front, dances during a Reed Dance in Mbabane.
FILE - In this Monday Sept. 3, 2012 file photo Eswatini's King, Mswati III, front, dances during a Reed Dance in Mbabane.

Eswatini, Africa's last remaining absolute monarchy, has been ruled by King Mswati III for 36 years. He ascended to the throne in April 1986 aged just 18.

Isaias Afwerki (29 year rule) - Eritrea

Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki smiles upon his arrival at the airport in Gondar, for a visit in Ethiopia, on November 9, 2018.
Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki smiles upon his arrival at the airport in Gondar, for a visit in Ethiopia, on November 9, 2018.

Isaias Afwerki, 76, has ruled the Horn of Africa nation with an iron fist since independence in May 1993.

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