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THE NEVERENDING PRESIDENCY

Africa’s longest serving ruler is set to extend his stay in office

AP Photo/Sunday Alamba
President Teodoro Obiang, Africa’s longest serving president, is set to rule even longer
  • Lynsey Chutel
By Lynsey Chutel

Reporter

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is set to comfortably win another election, adding another seven years to a 36-year-rule, according to reports on Wednesday.

Facing six other candidates, Obiang had already received 99% of the votes counted since Sunday’s election by Monday. Some of the six other opposition candidates accused Obiang of consistently rigging the polls. Despite calls for a boycott, the election went ahead peacefully, Reuters reported.

Obiang also flouted electoral rules, failing to remove giant posters of himself before the voting day. The president’s campaign manager, who is also his niece, said only those who are ungrateful for what Obiang has done would dare call him a dictator, according to Voice of America.

Africa’s third largest oil producer had a GDP of $15.53 billion in 2014, with a population of just over 1.2 million in last year’s census, meaning it has one of Africa’s highest GDP per capita. Yet, it’s ranked 138 out of 188 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index in 2015.

The 73-year-old leader has been in power in the former Spanish colony since August 1979 and recently elected his son as vice president and likely successor. The Obiang family has ruled the small central African country since independence in 1968, with Teodoro Obiang seizing power by ousting his uncle in a coup, according to Voice of America.

Most of Africa’s longest serving leaders came to power in a politically fragile post-independence era, often through coups. And like Obiang, most of them have retained power through regular, yet questionable, elections.

While not in the top ten, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo get a special mention among Africa’s longest serving rulers. The two came to power in 2000 and 2001, respectively, and have both made moves to change their constitutions to remain in power even longer. In Kagame’s case he could stay in power for another 17 years.

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