Skip to navigationSkip to content
Holding on for longer.
POWER GRAB

These two African strongmen had a good week even as citizens force change in Sudan and Algeria

By Yomi Kazeem

Egypt’s Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni have had a good week by recent standards for African strongmen leaders.

Sisi, who first took office in 2014, could now rule Egypt until 2030 after the country’s parliament voted to approve an extension of presidential terms from four to six years. As such, Sisi’s current term will now expire in 2024 after which he will also be allowed to seek re-election. While the changes remain subject to a public referendum before taking effect, that’s likely a simple formality as Sisi, 64, has won the last two elections by over 96% of the vote amid low voter turnout and a stifling of opposition candidates. If he stays in office until 2030, Sisi would have ruled for 16 years.

Meanwhile, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni who has ruled for twice as long could extend his tenure even further after the country’s top court upheld a decision to scrap presidential age limits. Previous presidential age limits capped at 75 would have prevented Museveni, now 74, from contesting a possible sixth term in office during 2021 elections.

Museveni and Sisi’s increased power are in contrast to the fortunes of two of their fellow strongmen leaders on the continent this month. In Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika was forced out of office after 20 years, following several weeks of unprecedented national protests which were triggered by his plans to contest a fifth term.

Omar Al-Bashir, the 30-year president of Sudan, has suffered an even worse fate. After being removed from office after sustained public protests, Bashir has been placed in solitary confinement in a Khartoum prison while two of the former president’s brothers have also been arrested by the transitional military council amid ongoing civilian protests.

Sign up to the Quartz Africa Weekly Brief here for news and analysis on African business, tech and innovation in your inbox