AU Watch

Trivia, If Only

I have seen more demonstrations and strikes in my first two years. I don’t think it can get worse. It is said that when you kill a goat and you frighten it with a knife, it doesn’t fear the knife because it is dead already. “I have a dead goat syndrome’.

President John Mahama

The Race To Stay In Office

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Welcome to many places in Africa, where our State leaders will stop at nothing to remain in power.

Whilst the vast majority of African governments at least go through the motions of election campaigns, and are theoretically committed to free and fair elections, that choice is little more than an illusion. The contest is rigged from the start. The reason is that they have learned how to rig elections – big time, from removing presidential term limits, intimidating and arresting their opponents, excluding opposition candidates from the ballot, imprisoning or killing their critics, and even getting the dead to vote. Many African autocrats and counterfeit democrats have also perfected the art of rigging polls to stay in power — now even without breaking any laws. Well that’s the new norm.

On assumption to that honey coated office, many enrol into a ‘course’ supervised by the AU, and graduate with an Honours Degree in “How to Seize and Remain in Power for Life”. Some take further advanced studies in “Creating Political Dynasties.” A few of them after many years of teaching and mentoring other Masters and Doctoral candidates have been “awarded” doctoral qualifications in “State Capture and Illicit Financial Flows”. Quite a few held the enviable Professorial Chair in ‘Collapsed State: The Disintegration and Restoration of Legitimate Authority’. Sadly, many of them are dead.

Welcome to the world of Paul Biya and Nguema Mbasogo et al.

Guinea’s Alpha Conde
Conde’s second and final five-year term expires in 2020. However, the 81-year-old leader has refused to rule out running again. In September, he asked his government to look into drafting a new constitution, raising concerns he might use it as a reset button on his presidency and run again. Conde was first elected in 2010.

Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza
Nkurunziza, in power since 2005, announced in 2015 he would run for a third term in what his opponents saw as a breach of the constitution which only allowed leaders to rule for two terms. Since his re-election, hundreds of Burundians have been killed in clashes with security forces and half a million have fled abroad.

A referendum in May 2018 overwhelmingly approved changes that extended the length of presidential terms to seven years. Under the new constitution, Nkurunziza is now able serve a further two terms, potentially extending his rule until 2034. The opposition rejected the results and the United States said the process had been marred by voter intimidation.

Cameroon’s Paul Biya
Biya, 86 and sub-Saharan Africa’s oldest leader, took over the presidency in 1982. The national assembly adopted a constitutional bill in April 2008, removing a two-term presidential limit to allow him to extend his rule past 2011. He has won two elections since then that opposition candidates have said were fraudulent.

Chad’s Idriss Deby
Deby has ruled Chad since coming to power after a 1990 coup. A 2005 referendum removed a two-term limit from the constitution. Parliament approved a new constitution in 2018 re-imposing the two-term limit, but it will not be applied retroactively, meaning Deby could serve two terms after the next election in 2021, potentially ruling until 2033.

Comoros’ Azali Assoumani
The president, a former military officer who first seized power in a coup in 1999, won a referendum in 2018 to extend term limits and end a system of rotating power among the archipelago’s three main islands off Africa’s east coast. The vote allowed him to run for two more five year-terms. The opposition dismissed the referendum as illegal.

Congo Republic’s Denis Sassou Nguesso
The constitution in Congo Republic was changed by referendum in 2015, lifting term and age limits that would have excluded Nguesso from running again. He won a new five-year term in a 2016 election, although the opposition rejected the outcome, alleging fraud. He has ruled for all but five years since 1979.

Djibouti’s Ismail Omar Guelleh
Lawmakers in Djibouti approved a constitutional amendment in 2010 that paved the way for Guelleh, in power since 1999, to run for a third term. He has won two subsequent elections.

Ivory Coast’s Alassane Ouattara
Ouattara, in power since 2010, has claimed the adoption of a new constitution in 2016 would allow him to run for a third term in the 2020 presidential race because a new constitution would mean the first two terms did not count. He has not yet said if he will stand for re-election.

Rwanda’s Paul Kagame
In 2015, Rwandans voted to extend the constitution’s two-term limit. Under the changes, Kagame could seek another seven-year term and two five-year terms after that, potentially remaining in power until 2034.

Kagame, who won a third term in 2017, has faced mounting criticism for what human rights groups say are widespread abuses, a muzzling of independent media, and suppression of political opposition. He denies wrongdoing. He first came to power in 2000.

Togo’s Faure Gnassingbe
Togo changed its constitution in 2019 to cap the presidential mandate at two five-year terms ostensibly in response to opposition calls for an end to a political dynasty that started when Gnassingbe’s father seized power in a 1967 coup.

However, it does not take into account the three terms Gnassingbe has already served since coming to power in 2005, the latest of which ends in 2020. Gnassingbe could therefore remain in power until 2030.

Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni
Museveni has ruled Uganda since 1986. A term-limiting clause that would have prevented him from seeking re-election was deleted from the constitution in 2005.
In 2017, lawmakers voted to remove a constitutional limit on the age of presidential candidates, paving the way for 75-year-old Museveni to stand again in the 2021 election.

Rank

Name

Years in office

Assumed office

Country

1.

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo

39

August 3, 1979

Equatorial Guinea

2.

Paul Biya

36

November 6, 1982

Cameroon

3.

Denis Sassou Nguesso

34

February 8, 1979 – August 31, 1992 and then from October 25, 1997

Republic of the Congo

4.

Yoweri Museveni

33

January 29, 1986

Uganda

5.

Mswati III

32

April 25, 1986

Swaziland

6.

Idriss Déby

29

December 2, 1990

Chad

7.

Isaias Afwerki

25

May 24, 1993

Eritrea

8.

Letsie III

23

February 7, 1996

Lesotho

9.

Ismaïl Omar Guelleh

19

May 8, 1999

Djibouti

10.

Paul Kagame

18

April 22, 2000

Rwanda

11.

Faure Gnassingbé

13

May 4, 2005

Togo

Know Your Presidents

Africa is the world’s second largest and second most-populous continent. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth’s total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.4 billion people, it accounts for about 16% of the world’s human population.

The AU is made up of 55 Member States which represent all the countries on the African continent – 52 are republics and 3 are monarchies (Lesotho, Morocco and Swaziland). AU Member States are divided into five geographic regions. which were defined by the OAU in 1976 (CM/Res.464QCXVI).

Here is the list of all African countries and their current presidents.

President

Country

Age

When They Came To Power

Algeria

ABDELAZIZ BOUTEFLIKA

80

27 April 1999

Angola

JOÃO LOURENÇO

63

26 September 2017

Benin

PATRICE TALON

59

6 April 2016

Botswana

IAN KHAMA

64

1 April 2008

Burkina Faso

ROCH MARC CHRISTIAN KABORÉ

60

29 December 2015

Burundi

PIERRE NKURUNZIZA

54

26 August 2005

Cape Verde

JORGE CARLOS FONSECA

67

9 September 2011

Cameroon

PAUL BIYA

84

6 November 1982

Central African Republic

FAUSTIN-ARCHANGE TOUADÉRA

60

30 March 2016

Chad

IDRISS DÉBY

65

2 December 1990

Comoros

AZALI ASSOUMANI

58

26 May 2016

Democratic Republic of the Congo

JOSEPH KABILA

46

17 January 2001

Republic of the Congo

DENIS SASSOU NGUESSO

74

25 October 1997

Cote D’Ivoire

ALASSANE OUATTARA

75

4 December 2010

Djibouti

ISMAÏL OMAR GUELLEH

71

8 May 1999

Egypt

ABDEL FATTAH EL-SISI

63

8 June 2014

Equatorial Guinea

TEODORO OBIANG NGUEMA MBASOGO

75

3 August 1979

Eritrea

ISAIAS AFWERKI

71

24 May 1993

Ethiopia

MULATU TESHOME

62

7 October 2013

Gabon

ALI BONGO

58

16 October 2009

Gambia

ADAMA BARROW

52

19 January 2017

Ghana

NANA AKUFO-ADDO

73

7 January 2017

Guinea

ALPHA CONDÉ

59

21 December 2010

Guinea-Bissau

JOSÉ MÁRIO VAZ

60

23 June 2014

Kenya

UHURU KENYATTA

56

9 April 2013

Lesotho

LETSIE III OF LESOTHO

54

7 February 1996

Liberia

ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF

79

16 January 2006

Lybia

AYEZ AL-SERRAJ

57

30 March 2016

Madagascar

HERY RAJAONARIMAMPIANINA

59

25 January 2014

Malawi

PETER MUTHARIKA

77

31 May 2014

Mali

IBRAHIM BOUBACAR KEÏTA

72

4 September 2013

Mauritania

MOHAMED OULD ABDEL AZIZ

61

28 January 2016

Mauritius

AMEENAH GURIB

58

5 July 2015

Morocco

MOHAMMED VI OF MOROCCO

61

23 July 1999

Mozambique

FILIPE NYUSI

58

15 January 2015

Namibia

HAGE GEINGOB

76

21 March 2015

Niger

MAHAMADOU ISSOUFOU

66

7 April 2011

Nigeria

MUHAMMADU BUHARI

75

29 May 2015

Rwanda

PAUL KAGAME

60

24 March 2000

Sao Tome and Principe

MANUEL PINTO DA COSTA

76

3 September 2016

Senegal

MACKY SALL

56

2 April 2012

Seychelles

DANNY FAURE

73

16 April 2004

Sierra Leone

ERNEST BAI KOROMA

64

17 September 2007

Somalia

MOHAMED ABDULLAHI MOHAMED

62

16 September 2012

South Africa

JACOB ZUMA

75

9 May 2009

South Sudan

SALVA KIIR MAYARDIT

66

9 July 2011

Sudan

OMAR HASSAN AHMAD AL-BASHIR

73

30 June 1989

Swaziland

MSWATI III

49

25 April 1986

Tanzania

JOHN MAGUFULI

66

21 December 2005

Togo

FAURE GNASSINGBÉ

51

4 May 2005

Tunisia

BEJI CAID ESSEBSI

91

31 December 2014

Uganda

YOWERI MUSEVENI

73

29 January 1986

Zambia

EDGAR LUNGU

61

25 January 2015

Zimbabwe

EMMERSON MNANGAGWA

77

2017- Present