List of African Presidents Who Have Spent Over 30 Years in Office

Aug 12, 2023 | Uncategorized

  • In Africa, some leaders have been in power for as long as over 30 years and hold on to the position even when they are old and must give way to others to govern
  • These longest-serving presidents usually say they are still governing because it is the desire of the citizens
  • This comprehensive article presents a list of the current longest-serving African heads of state

Many African leaders manage to cling to power for decades, either by force, breaking laws, or bending constitutions.

It is an established norm that has been practised throughout the modern history of the continent.

In some years past, some of these presidents have been booted out of power, but a few remain.

Meet some of the best civilian regimes on the African continent that all multilateral and regional institutions approve of:

1. Faure Gnassingbé, president of Togo

Faure Gnassingbe, Lome, Togo
Thirty-nine-year-old Faure Gnassingbe swears to oath on February 07, 2005 at the presidential palace in Lome.
Photo credit: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images)
Source: Getty Images

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Lome, Togo – Faure Gnassingbé has been Togo’s president since 2005, and before him, it was his father, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, who seized power in 1967.

Since he took charge in the Presidency of the Togolese Republic, President Faure Gnassingbé has worked towards national reconciliation and a peaceful political climate.

Under his leadership, the Togolese economy is recording a noticeable growth increase and entered an active phase of modernization thanks to bold policies.

Gnassingbé of Togo is serving his 4th term after his father ruled for 38 years.

2. Ali Bongo, president of Gabon

President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba
President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba speaks during the 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference at on October 11, 2018, in London, England.
Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Gabon, Libreville – Ali Bongo is the president of Gabon.

Bongo is a man of many faces; to some, he is a spoilt, playboy prince who sees ruling the oil-rich Gabon as his birthright; a one-time funk singer who stepped into his father’s shoes to continue his family’s 50-year rule.

To others, he is a reformer – a man who, they would argue, was voted into power democratically by the masses.

On January 7, a group of soldiers tried – and apparently failed – to take control. Among their stated reasons was an attempt to “restore democracy” following the 2016 election, which Bongo narrowly won amid accusations of fraud and acts of violence.

Bongo is serving his term after his father ruled the country for 42 years.

3. Paul Biya, President of Cameroon (41-year rule)

Cameroon's President Paul Biya
Cameroon’s President Paul Biya waits for the arrival of France’s President Emmanuel Macron for talks in Yaounde, on July 26, 2022.
Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Cameroon, Yaoundé – Paul Biya is the president of Cameroon, serving as a civilian president for the past 41 years.

Biya served as prime minister for seven years before becoming president.

Biya was born on February 13, 1933 at Mvomeka’a, Meyomessala Subdivision, Dja-et-Lobo Division, South Region. He is the son of Etienne Mvondo Assam and Anastasie Eyenga Elle.

He is Cameroon’s second Head of State. Biya came to power on November 6, 1982, following the resignation of President Ahmadou Ahidjo on November 4.

4. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo (44 year rule) – Equatorial Guinea

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is the President of Equatorial Guinea.
Photo credit: John Berry, Pool/Getty Images
Source: Facebook

Equatorial Guinea, Malabo – Theodore Obiang of Equatorial Guinea is serving as a civilian leader for 44 years, replacing his uncle.

Born on June 5th, 1942, President Teodoro, who has survived several coup attempts, seized power of the oil-rich West African nation in 1979 after a military takeover. Upon gaining office from his predecessor and uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema, he made some reforms but retained Nguema’s absolute control over the nation.

In what could be described as a family dynasty, since August 3, 1979, Equatorial Guinea has been ruled by President Obiang. The 81-year-old leader, who is constitutionally allowed to rule by decree, became the country’s second president after overthrowing his uncle, Macias Nguema. Despite more than a dozen attempts to topple him, President Obiang has clung to power for more than 40 years and earned the title of Africa’s and the world’s longest-serving president.

President Obiang’s son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, is the vice president of Equatorial Guinea.

5. Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, president of Djibouti

Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh
Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh looks on during the 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly AU in Addis Ababa on February 18, 2023.
Photo credit: EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Djibouti City, Djibouti – Omar Guelleh is the president of the Republic of Djibouti, serving as civilian leader for the past 24 years, replacing his uncle.

In April 2021, Djibouti’s President Guelleh was re-elected for a 5th term with over 98% of the votes.

He has ruled since 1999 when he took over from his uncle, Djibouti’s first President and Prime Minister, Hassan Gouled Aptidon, who ruled from 1977 to 1999.

Niger Republic breaks off ties with Nigeria

In another development, the junta in Niger Republic has cut off ties with Nigeria after the efforts of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) to resolve the ongoing impasse failed.

The delegation led by General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) only met with representatives of the junta on Thursday, August 4.

Subsequently, Niger severed ties with Nigeria, Togo, France, its coloniser, and the United States, a report by Daily Trust on Friday, August 4, said.

Ousted Niger President begs US, others

President Mohamed Bazoum, the ousted constitutional leader of the Republic of Niger, has cried out to the United States and the international community to come to the country’s aid and restore constitutional order.

The Nigerien President, who was overthrown in a coup last week by a military junta, said he was “writing as a hostage” in an opinion article in the Washington Post.

The president also warned that the region could fall under the influence of Russia through the Wagner Group, which is already operating in the neighbouring countries.


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