African leaders who held on tight to the reins of power (OPINION PIECE)


DRC leader Joseph Kabila is still interested in running for president in 2023, after leading the country for 17 years.

Kabila is expected to leave office after the elections on December 23, which will be the first democratic transition of power since Kabila took office in 2001.

Many leaders on the African continent have been known for clinging on to power beyond the democratic time frame. Here’s a list of leaders who have not let go of power.

FILE PHOTO: Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Joseph Kabila addresses a news conference at the State House in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Kenny Katombe/File Photo


1. Teodoro Nguema Mbasogo

The president of Equatorial Guinea has been in power for almost 40 years and is known as Africa’s longest-serving leader.

Mbasogo and his family are well known for their extravagant lifestyles.

2. Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola

Dos Santos handed over power in September after leading the country from 1979.

He was succeeded by Joao Lourenco of the MPLA ruling party. Lourenco is the former defence minister.


Angola's former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos.
Angola’s former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos. Image: REUTERS

3. Cameroon’s Paul Biya

Biya won his seventh presidential election in October, making 2018 his 35th year in power. According to BBC, Biya has been criticised for being an “absentee president” because of his apparent hands-off style of rule, leaving all matters to the prime minister Philemon Yang.


President of Cameroon Paul Biya.
President of Cameroon Paul Biya. Image: Lintao Zhang / POOL / AFP

4. Yoweri Museveni of Uganda

Museveni has held the title of first citizen since 1986 after winning a war against Idi Amin Dada’s regime.

He is known for cracking down on anti-government activists and people who publicly criticise him.

The 74-year-old is planning to introduce a bill that will allow him to run again in 2021.


Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. Image: Isaac Kasamani / AFP


5. Robert Mugabe

Following more than three decades as Zimbabwe’s president, Mugabe was forced to give up his power after a military coup in November 2017.

Mugabe had been the leader of Zimbabwe since it gained its independence from British rule in 1980.

The 94-year-old was succeeded by Emmerson Mnangagwa of the Zanu-PF, who is now faced with the challenge of redeeming the country’s economy and its global political standing.

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-Times live

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