The list of Africa’s longest serving rulers does not frequently get an upgrade. After all, for the strongmen of Africa, it is about staying in power by all means but 2016 has proved to be a surprising year for politics; just remember Brexit and the American elections.
Africa had her very own political surprise as Gambia’s presidential polls closed on Thursday and Africa was greeted with the news that one of her longest-serving President’s had lost an election.
President Yahya Jammeh, in a truly admirable move, conceded to Gambia’s President-elect Adams Barrow.
Prior to this loss and concession, President Yahya Jammeh had ruled the Gambia for 22 years, holding a comfortable position in the top ten list of Africa’s longest serving rulers.
On Friday, Angola’s state radio announced that president Jose Eduardo dos Santos will step down before the country’s 2017 elections. President Dos Santos is Africa’s second-longest serving leader, as he has ruled for a total of 37 years.
Joao Pinto, a senior member of the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) party told AFP that “The president will not be a candidate and he already has a successor.”
See Also: Gambia’s President Jammeh Loses Election
President Dos Santos’ move to leave office is viewed with more skepticism because he has previously made the same promise and failed to keep it. In 2001, Dos Santos said he would step down and not run as a candidate in the next elections, but was ultimately re-elected in 2003. In March 2016, he then said he would leave politics in 2018, but gave no hint of resignation plans.
If Dos Santos sticks to his word this time around, a 2017 top ten list of longest serving African leaders will look a bit different. With Yahya Jammeh and President Dos Santos out, there will be room for two newcomers.
Check out the updated top ten list of Africa’s longest serving rulers come 2017;
Teodoro Obiang (Equatorial Guinea) – 37
Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe) – 36
Paul Biya (Cameroon) – 34
Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) – 30
Omar al-Bashir (Sudan) – 27
Idriss Déby (Chad) – 26
Isaias Afewerki (Eritrea) – 23
Denis Sassou Nguesso (Congo) – 19
Paul Kagame (Rwanda) – 16
Joseph Kabila (DRC) – 15
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo should join the top ten longest serving rulers in Africa list come 2017.