MUAMMAR QADDAFI: 40 years, 6 months. Mr. Qaddafi seized power in a bloodless military coup in September 1969. Thanks to sitting on top of Africa’s largest proven oil reserves, he is used to throwing his weight around internationally, and usually gets what he wants. He had himself introduced at the 2009 UN General Assembly General Assembly Hall as the “leader of the revolution, the president of the African Union, the king of kings of Africa.”
TEODORO OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO: 30 years, 7 months. Mr. Obiang assumed power in Equatorial Guinea when he kicked his uncle Macias out of the palace in August 1979. He was elected in 1996 and 2002 during the country’s first two multi-party elections, both widely deemed fraudulent. The 2008 article “Who’s Africa’s Worst Dictator?” that appeared in Slate wrote of Obiang: “His is the Switzerland of dictatorships—so effective at enforcing obedience that the spectacle of unrest is invisible.”
Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom/File
JOSE EDUARDO DOS SANTOS: 30 years, 6 months. Mr. dos Santos assumed Angola’s presidency in September 1979. Since then, the nation rich in oil and diamonds has remained mostly poor, and in January the parliament approved a new Constitution whereby dos Santos must no longer be directly voted into power by the populace.
ROBERT MUGABE: 30 years. Mr. Mugabe became Zimbabwe’s prime minister in 1980 following independence from Britain. The former Marxist guerrilla became president in 1987 and has held fast to that position despite a deep financial crisis pushing inflation above 164,900.3 percent. He formed a unity government in 2009 with opposition Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
PAUL BIYA: 27 years, 4 months. Mr. Biya assumed Cameroon’s presidency in November 1982. David Wallechinsky’s book “Tyrants, the World’s 20 Worst Living Dictators,” says of him: “Every few years, Biya stages an election to justify his continuing reign, but these elections have no credibility. In fact, Biya is credited with a creative innovation in the world of phony elections. In 2004, annoyed by the criticisms of international vote-monitoring groups, he paid for his own set of international observers, six ex-U.S. congressmen, who certified his election as free and fair.”
DENIS SASSOU NGUESSO: 25 years, 11 months. Mr. Nguesso seized the presidency in the Congo Republic in a 1979 coup but then lost the country’s first elections in 1992. He regained the presidency in 1997 and was re-elected in 2004.
SOURCE: http://www.CSMonitor.com (4 March 2010)